"AIDS is now the leading cause of death in military and police forces in some African countries, accounting for more than half of in-service mortality," write Ugboga Nwokoji and Ademola Ajuwon in the Open Access journal BMC Public Health today. They believe that secrecy about AIDS-related deaths, and multiple sex partnering in the Nigerian navy could be helping to fuel the HIV epidemic in Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country.
Their survey of 480 Nigerian naval personnel revealed that the naval authorities are secretive about AIDS-related deaths. One naval officer insisted, "although we often hear that an officer has died of malaria or of tuberculosis, we never hear about a death from AIDS."
"Until AIDS-related deaths are discussed openly, naval personnel will continue to deny the existence of the virus and participate in risky behaviours," say the researchers, from the Nigerian Red Cross Society and the University of Ibadan. They are now calling for a targeted educational program to expose the risks that sailors face from indulging in unsafe sex.
Gemma Bradley | EurekAlert!
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