Perception of Nigerian clergy about HIV/AIDS and their involvement in HIV/AIDS preventive and supportive care
Department of Community Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Enugu, Nigeria
FWACP P N Aniebue Department of Community Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, P.M.B. 1129, Enugu Nigeria
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Objective: To assess Knowledge and perception of the Nigerian clergy about HIV/AIDS and their role in fighting the scourge.
Method: One hundred and fourteen priests from various Christian denominations were interviewed using self - administered structured questionnaires. The survey instrument was a questionnaire with questions pertaining to various aspects of HIV/AIDS including knowledge of cause, transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS as well as care of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Results: All the priests had heard of HIV/AIDS and the electronic and print media were the commonest sources of information. Sixty five (57.0%) had correct knowledge of the different modes of transmission of HIV/AIDS while 36 (31.6%) knew the cause of the disease. Some priests still attributed the illness to a divine punishment from God and to the activities of demonic and spiritual forces. Abstinence was both the commonest method of prevention identified and approved by the priests while use of condom was the least. Seventy one priests (62.3%) claimed their congregations were well informed about HIV/AIDS. Reasons for poor information of some congregations were chiefly failure of the church to pay attention to their need for information and lack of appropriate personnel to disseminate the information. Premarital screening for intending couples was carried out by majority (93.8%) of the priests while only 46 (40.4%) ran a welfare programme for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Conclusion: Awareness of HIV/AIDS is high amongst the clergy but misconceptions still abound on the cause and modes of transmission of the disease. Majority of the priests conduct premarital screening but only a few run a welfare programme for PLWHA. The clergy is still quite opposed to the use of condom as a method of prevention of HIV/AIDS. However the church has other strong potentials that can be harnessed to carry out effective campaigns for the control of HIV/AIDS as well as providing care and support for PLWHA and those affected by AIDS.