Risk perception for HIV/AIDS infection among premarital sexually initiated youth in Nigeria

  • Blessing Uchenna Mberu African Population and Health Research Center
Keywords: Risk, Perception, HIV/AIDS, Premarital, Sexual


This paper examines perception of risk of HIV/AIDS infection among 1,308 premarital sexually initiated youth aged 15-24, with data from the 1999 and 2003 Nigeria Demographic and Health Surveys. Building on the importance of the behavioral approach in a successful effort to limit HIV/AIDS transmission and evidence that subjective perception of one’s own risk of infection is an important correlate of individual adoption of risk-reduction strategies, the study finds significant levels of discordance between risk perception and corresponding sexual behavior. The emanating challenge is identifying and understanding ways to accurately assess personalized and generalized risks, in order to achieve alignment of risk perception with actual sexual behavior. Following propositions that behavioral change in response to HIV/AIDS should in part be the consequence of a sense of personal vulnerability to infection, key interventions in Nigeria need to include an aggressive educational approach to address risk denial about HIV/AIDS emanating from misperceptions and rationalizations.