1.1 Background to the study
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among the most common diseases in the world and therefore a major public health problem as they cause devastating long-term consequences if untreated, especially in adolescents and young adults. Sexually transmitted disease-preventive measures, if correctly and consistently used, have been proven to be efficacious (Verstraelen et al., 2013). Sexually transmitted diseases are illnesses that have significant probability of transmission between humans by means of sexual activities including vaginal intercourse, oral sex and anal sex. Sexually transmitted diseases are a major health problem affecting mostly young people, not only in developing, but also in developed countries (Reza-Paul, Lorway, O’Brien, Lazarus, Jain and Bhagya, 2012).
Over the period 1985-1996, a general decrease in the incidence of gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia diseases was noted in developed countries, both in the general population and among young adults. From the mid-1990s however, increases in the diagnoses of sexually transmitted diseases, in particular syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia have been reported in several European and African countries, especially among teenagers 16-19 years old (Reza-Paul et al., 2012).
Groups that are at greater risk for some sexually transmitted diseases include adolescents, men who have sex with men (MSM) and intravenous drug users (IDUs). The presence of an STD in young children, unless acquired during birth, strongly suggests sexual abuse. People with STDs are more susceptible to HIV while the infectivity of HIV patients is increased if they have STDs. In effect, STDs facilitates the spread of HIV. There are several STD preventive measures and they include: Abstinence, being faithful to a faithful partner, using condoms consistently and correctly, avoiding excessive use of alcohol or drugs, vaccination, early diagnosis and treatment (Golden et al., 2015).
The problem with most STDs is that they can occur symptom-free and can thus be passed on accidentally during unprotected sexual intercourse. On an individual level, complications can include pelvic inflammatory diseases which can possibly lead to ectopic pregnancies and infertility. Young female adults are likely to have a higher risk of contracting an STD than their male counterparts as their partners are generally older and hence more likely to be infected. The declining age of first sexual intercourse has been suggested as one possible explanation for the increase in number of STDs. According to data from different European countries, the average age of first sexual intercourse has decreased over the last three decades, with increasing proportions of young people reporting sexual activity before the age of 16 years. An early onset of sexual activity not only increases the probability of having various sexual partners, it also increases the chances of contracting a sexually transmitted diesease. The risk is higher for young females as their cervical anatomic development is incomplete and especially vulnerable to infection by certain sexually transmitted pathogens (Fuller, 2013).
The reluctance of young adults to use condoms is another possible explanation for the increase in STDs. Some surveys of young adults have reported that condoms were found to be difficult to use for sexually inexperienced people, detracts from sensual pleasure and also embarrassing to suggest. Condoms have also been reported to be used primarily as a protection against pregnancy, not STD, with their use becoming irregular when other contraceptives are used. Furthermore, many young adults do not perceive themselves to be at risk of contracting an STD. The above highlighted issues make it important to educate and re-educate young adults on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (Fuller, 2013).
1.2 Statement of the problem
Young adults, especially those in Universities are likely to engage in risky sexual practices and this increase their chances of contacting sexually transmitted diseases or infections. It is no longer an old tale about the existence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as it used to be relegated as superstitious. Just like the popular slogan that “AIDS is real” similarly, sexually transmitted diseases abound but the problem is that adolescents and young adults who indulge in sexual practices seem to have little or no knowledge of STDs and the right attitude towards it. In a bid to explore and experiment on sex and its related activities, young adults seemingly lurk in total ignorance of the existence, symptoms, mode of transmission, control and right attitude towards sexually transmitted diseases. Sequel to the above statement, the problem of this study simply addressed in a question form is; what do young adults in universities know on the symptoms, mode of transmission and control of sexually transmitted diseases. Also, what is the attitude of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma Medical students towards the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
1.3 Research questions
In undertaking this research, the following questions readily came to mind:
- What is the level of knowledge of the medical students of Ambrose Alli University towards the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases?
- What is the level of attitude of the medical students of Ambrose Alli University towards the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases?
1.4 Aim of the study
The aim of this study is to illuminate and bring to the fore, the knowledge and attitude of Medical students of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma towards the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Consequently, the specific objective of this study is to evaluate the level of knowledge and the attitude of Medical students of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma towards the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases using carefully prepared questions.
1.5 Significance of the study
This study is significant as it measures the knowledge and attitude of Medical students of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma towards the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases with a view of obtaining reproducible data that would serve as a working tool for researchers to either classify Medical students of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma as knowledgible or ignorant of measures that can be taken to prevent the occurrence and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
1.6 Scope of the study
This study centered on the knowledge and attitude of Medical students of Ambrose Alli University towards the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
1.7 Operational definition of terms
Sexually transmitted diseases- sexually transmitted diseases are illnesses that have significant probability of transmission between humans by means of sexual activities including vaginal intercourse, oral sex and anal sex.
Efficacious- capable of having the desired result or effect.
Knowledge– awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.
Attitude– a settled way of thinking or feeling about something.
Prevention- the action of stopping something from happening or arising.
Sexually transmitted diseases- any of various diseases or infections that can be transmitted by direct sexual contact.
Medical student- In this context referring to any student undergoing studies in the College of Medical Sciences of Ambrose Alli University. They include students of Human Anatomy, Medical Laboratory Science, Medicine and Surgery, Nursing Science and Human Physiology.