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Sexual health in Nigeria - statistics & facts

Sexual health is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of physical, mental, and social well-being related to sexuality. Various aspects can influence an individual's sexual experiences, such as sex education, cultural environment, diseases as well as family and the social context in which a person grows up. In Nigeria, one of the major influences on public health is the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and, in particular, human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV). The proportion of people infected by HIV in Nigeria is not among the highest overall, but through its very large population, the number of people living with HIV is high. Indeed, Nigeria registers some of the highest numbers of AIDS-related deaths in the world.

Estimations counted about 1.9 million HIV-positive people in Nigeria. Approximately 140 thousand are children. That same year, Nigeria recorded the highest rate of children infected with HIV passed on through their mother worldwide. A study conducted in Nigeria analyzed the level of knowledge about HIV transmission. Among others, the questionnaire asked respondents about the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. About 60 percent of women in Nigeria were aware that HIV can be transmitted during pregnancy, during delivery, and by breastfeeding. Mother-to-child transmission of HIV is also known as perinatal transmission. It can be largely limited by the use of HIV medicines and other strategies followed during pregnancy, childbirth, and after the birth.

A recent survey asked women in Nigeria about contraception use in their sexual life. Modern contraceptive methods, which include pills, condoms, implants, and others, were not particularly common. Some 28 percent of unmarried women said they used any modern method, while the share of married women who used contraception was considerably lower. Data reveal that the use of modern contraception was more frequent among women with a higher education. In a sample of almost 30 thousand women, only four percent of respondents with no education was using modern contraceptive methods. Nevertheless, a survey asking about the knowledge of specific contraceptives shows that over 90 percent of men and women knew at least one modern contraceptive method. Especially, pills, injectable contraceptives, and male condoms were the most familiar ones.

A serious implication for female sexual health in Nigeria is female genital mutilation (FGM). Female genital mutilation is defined by the WHO as any procedure that involves partial or total removal of the external genitalia and/or injury to the female genital organs for non-therapeutic reasons. As of 2018, 20 percent of surveyed women had undergone female genital mutilation. For the majority of women, genital mutilation occurred before the age of five. When asked about their opinions on FGM, women living in urban areas were more likely to believe that this violence is not required, compared to women living in rural areas. Female genital mutilation has many consequences for female health, both physically and psychologically. For instance, the UN Population Fund reports that women who were subjected to FGM are more likely to face risks in child delivery. Moreover, FGM increases the risk of HIV in different ways. One possibility arises when one tool is used for different girls. Secondly, laceration of tissues can occur due to damage to the organs, thus increasing the risk of HIV infection.

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Sexual health in Nigeria

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Knowledge of HIV transmission

Other STDs

FGM

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