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Background of the Study

Sexually transmitted disease (STD) refers to any infection (such as syphilis, gonorrhea, AIDS, or a genital type of herpes simplex) that is typically or often spread from person to person by direct sexual contact. It can also be transferred from mother to child prior to or during delivery, or, less commonly, by nonsexual contact such as kissing, contaminated blood transfusions, or the use of unsterilized hypodermic needles ( Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008). Myless (2001) stated in a similar vein that sexually transmitted illnesses are those caused by a range of organisms that are capable of being transferred sexually. However, Achalu (1993) defined sexually transmitted illnesses as a subset of infectious diseases that are disseminated primarily via sexual behavior or contact. Sexually transmitted illnesses are defined by the researcher as those that can be contracted by unprotected sexual activity.

Sexually transmitted illnesses often affect the genitals, reproductive tract, urinary tract, oral cavity, anus, or rectum at first, but may progress to attack other organs and systems throughout the body. Tertiary syphilis, on the other hand, or paresis, can impair the skin, bones, central nervous system, and heart, among other organs.

Other organs, such as the liver. Individuals infected with the AIDS virus may appear to be healthy on the outside for years before the illness establishes a foothold in the immune system. There is a long history of sexually transmitted illnesses. Syphilis is the most well-known of these infections, caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. Syphilis was first widely described by European writers in the sixteenth century, and some medical historians believe it was brought to Europe by returning New World explorers. According to some scholars, syphilis dates all the way back to ancient times and may have been mistaken for leprosy at one point. In any case, syphilis first gained widespread recognition and reporting around the year 1500, when Europe was overwhelmed by a virtual pandemic (Billings, 1998). Infection and inflammation of the urethra are referred to as urethritis (the passage that transmits urine from the bladder to the exterior of the body). Sexual transmission accounts for the majority of instances of urethritis. The infection of the urethra produced by the gonococcus bacteria (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) is referred to as gonorrhea and is one of the most well-known sexually transmitted illnesses. The Greek physician Galen coined the term “gonorrhea,” and it is believed to have been known to ancient Chinese and Egyptians. Beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, genital herpes became very prevalent. Herpes infections are significant not just for the discomfort they produce, but also for the possibility of serious disease in children delivered to moms who have genital herpes. Numerous therapies for genital herpes have been attempted, but none have shown to be completely effective. (2008, Britannica Encyclopedia)

AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, was the sexually transmitted disease that raised the most alarm in the late twentieth century. Since its definitive diagnosis in 1981, AIDS has spread swiftly, with reported cases increasing at an alarming pace, particularly among homosexuals and intravenous drug users in the United States and Western Europe, as well as heterosexuals in tropical Africa. The high death rate associated with AIDS and the lack of a treatment or vaccine for the disease served as a wake-up call to sexually permissive civilizations. There are almost a hundred other sexually transmitted illnesses. Each has a medication treatment that is reasonably successful. Around half of all instances of urethritis that are not caused by gonorrhea are caused by chlamydia, a parasitic illness caused by Chlamydia trachomas. Additionally, the latter bacteria is the causative agent of pelvic inflammatory illness and another sexually transmitted infection, lymphogranuloma venereum. The etiology of the other 50% of nongonococcal urethral infections is unknown; no organism has been definitively associated with these diseases (Wenger, 1995). Trichomoniasis is an infection of the urogenital tract caused by the protozoan Trichomonas vaginalis; males with this infection often exhibit no symptoms, and only a minority of females with this illness have vaginal discharge. Candidiasis (yeast infection) is caused by Candida albicans (sometimes spelled Monilia albicans), which causes a thick, yellowish vaginal discharge in women and genital discomfort and itching. Males may get glans or penis skin inflammation. Due to the widespread presence of this yeast in the environment, these infections are not necessarily transmitted sexually. Certain forms of papilloma viruses create warts in the vaginal regions, and these warts can be spread to other persons through sexual contact. Generally, genital warts are harmless, but they can become numerous or large enough to obstruct urine, bowel movements, or vaginal birth. Additionally, there is emerging evidence that papillomavirus infections of the genital tract contribute to the development of cervix and probably genital tract cancer.

The Encarta English dictionary (2008) defines the term “knowledge” as “general awareness or explicit information about a situation or fact.” Additionally, it refers to having information, facts, concepts, beliefs, and principles in one’s head. On the other hand, the aforementioned definition defines the term “attitude” as a subjective opinion or overall emotion about something. Outside of marriage, sex in Africa was deemed disgusting and banned during the pre-colonial period and even during the British colonial period. The populace was largely reserved and did not express their beliefs and views on love, marriage, and sex publicly. Additionally, instructors and parents are not permitted to discuss sexual subjects with students/children, such as

Due to cultural and religious restrictions, sexual relationships and STDs are taboo in schools and at home. However, in modern African society, there has been a great deal of attention, inquiry, and curiosity about the issue of sexual interactions beyond marriage; sex is addressed more freely by the greater public, particularly teenagers.

Additionally, the question of sex is the focus of youth club programs, television shows, art works, and governmental legislation at the moment. Indeed, there is an increase in divestment and nakedness in commercials, periodicals, television shows, and films, indicating a broader trend toward emancipated views and ideals that encourage open discussion of formerly taboo subjects like as human sexuality. This permissive society has pushed people to develop liberal and lenient views and behaviors about sexuality, both premarital and extramarital. Despite a heightened commitment to STD teaching in schools, the sensitivity of sexuality and young behavior appears to block instruction on STDs.

Indeed, experts believe that today’s secondary schools have gotten more liberal and tolerant in their sexual views and behaviors (Reiss, 1994, Roche, 1996, Bell and Chaskas, 1990.).

Additionally, these specialists noted that premarital sex occurs at an alarmingly high rate in society. Unachukwu and Nwankwo (1998) observed that a significant proportion of persons who had not engaged in coitus (Very few, though) will do so throughout their years of secondary school studies before to marriage. Those who do not engage in sexual activity prior to marriage appear to be a minority in today’s society.

In Nigeria, the traditional values among Nigerians for the sanctity of sex and sex for procreation have been abused in favour of liberal sexual behaviours. There is evidence of high rate of adolescents’ coital sex and premarital sexual involvements among Nigerian adolescents, especially, secondary school students. (Onyemelukwu, 1993). The World Health Organization (WHO, 1993) drew the attention of the world in no mistakable terms to the rise in the incidence and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, ever since then, nobody or association has refuted the claim. Rather, other numerous sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) were discovered and reported to be in circulation. As a matter of fact, Webster (1992) reported that the incidence of infection of STDs has risen dramatically until it is now recognized as having reached epidemic proportions.

A more widely discussed factor for the spread of veneral diseases (VDS) is on increase in sexual freedom and the frequency of the sexual contacts.( Morton,1991) The commonest STDs include HIV&AIDS, non-specific genital infection (NSGI), Candidiasis, Gonorrhea, Trichomoniasis, Genital Warts, Syphilis, Herps, Genitalia Tines (Crurus), Scabies and Gardenerella Vaginalisis. Others are Hymphorgramutoma, Varecem, Choncroid and Vereophobia among others. The tragedy of the premarital sexuality among adolescents is that they engage in frequent sexual activities without proper knowledge of what is involved (Obikeze, 1997). In another opinion, Achalu (1996) emphasizes that those who engage in high risk behaviours such as indiscriminate sex with many partners or those who pick partners from the streets have increased chance of being infected. Furthermore, Ijezie, (1997), says that sexual practices such as anal intercourse, oral intercourse, homosexuality, heterosexuality and deep kissing are associated with high risk of contracting these diseases especially the virus that causes AIDS. Also Owolabi, (1995), says that some of the prevalence of STDs in Nigeria is due to sexual promiscuity, and homosexuality, lack of sex education, self medication and drug abuse among secondary school students. The researcher, a school counselor, have observed with dismay that rate at which secondary school boys and girls patronize pharmacy stores for condom and pills is on increase in a bid to control sexually transmitted diseases. At a particular occasion, such pills were found in the school bags of several senior secondary students who seemingly have no knowledge of these pills. To this effect, the researcher is set to ascertain the knowledge of students on the control of STDs

Statement of the Problem

A Adolescents, particularly those enrolled in secondary school, are more prone to engage in hazardous sexual behaviors, increasing their risk of contracting sexually transmitted illnesses or infections. It is no longer considered superstitious to believe in the presence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). As with the famous tagline “AIDS is real,” sexually transmitted illnesses abound. The issue is that teenagers, particularly secondary school students who engage in sexual activities, appear to lack awareness and an appropriate attitude regarding STDs.

Adolescents appear to lurk in complete ignorance about the presence, symptoms, route of transmission, control, and appropriate attitude toward sexually transmitted illnesses in their quest to explore and experiment with sex and its associated behaviors. However, they stated that ignorance is not a justification for the catastrophic consequences of STD exposure.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to find out the level of knowledge and attitude of Secondary School students towards STDs in Nsukka Education Zone. Specifically, the study aims at the following:

  1. To ascertain the level of knowledge of students on the signs and symptoms of STDs.
  2. To find out the extent to which the students know of the mode of transmission.
  3. To ascertain their knowledge of the control of STDs
  4. To find out the attitude of students towards STDs.
  5. To determine the influence of gender on students level of knowledge of STDs.

Significance of the Study

The findings of this study if published will be of immense benefits to the ministry of Education, teachers, parents, curriculum developers and the general public.

It is hoped that the findings of this study will spur the Federal Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education to articulate effective programmes on sex education for Secondary School Students. It is hoped that these ministries will train and equip peer educators who will further educate secondary school students on the right knowledge and attitude towards sexually transmitted diseases; steering through it’s related health hazards and consequences.

The study will also help teachers and counselors to know and acknowledge students knowledge and attitude to sexually transmitted diseases and how best they can help students in the area of sexuality.

The result of the study will help to reawaken parents and teachers on their roles in educating the adolescents on sexual matters. It will at the same time help to challenge our adolescents to healthy sexual relationships in order to avoid contacting HIV virus and STDs, unwanted pregnancies and abortion among others.

To the general public, it is hoped that the findings of this study will; and especially Elders and the Clergy, they would also acknowledge their personal dispositions to guard the adolescents in words and action towards wholesome attitude and knowledge to sexually transmitted diseases.


Scope of the Study

The study is designed to find the level of knowledge and attitude of Secondary School students of Nsukka Educational Zone towards Sexually transmitted diseases. The study will investigate the students’ knowledge and attitude towards Sexually transmitted diseases, focusing on signs and symptoms, mode of transmission, and control.

Research Questions

To carry out the study, the following research questions were formulated to guide the study,

  1. What is the level of knowledge of students on the signs and symptoms of STDs?
  2. To what extent do students know the modes of transmission of STDs?
  3. To what extent are students aware of the control of STDs?
  4. What are the students’ attitudes towards STDs?
  5. What are the influence of gender on students’ level of knowledge of STDs?



The following null hypotheses will be tested at 0.05 level of significance to guide the study.

HO1: There is no significant difference between the mean responses of male and female students on their knowledge of various STDs.

HO2: There is no significant difference between the mean scores on attitude of students towards STDs based on gender.


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