INTRODUCTION: HIV premarital screening is one of the practices that is prevalent and compulsory in religious communities of many African countries and is a major health issue that constitutes basic threat to fundamental human right when made mandatory.
AIM: This study is therefore tailored towards assessing the awareness, attitude and practice of HIV premarital screening among religious leaders in Ilorin metropolis of Nigeria.
METHOD: This study was a descriptive cross sectional survey carried out in 2008. A total of 375 religious leaders were used. Multistage sampling technique involving five stages sampling procedures was used to select participants. The research instrument was structured interviewer administered questionnaire. Results obtained from the questionnaire were analysed using EPI-INFO computer software and data were presented in form of tables, cross tabulation and test of statistical significance.
RESULTS: Result showed that the awareness of religious leaders on HIV/AIDS, premarital HIV screening and Voluntary Confidential Counselling and Testing (VCCT) was high. Most of the premarital HIV screening was initiated by the religious leaders. Also, majority of leaders made premarital HIV screening compulsory which is against the right of the members. More than half of the respondents said they will conduct marriage without premarital HIV screening and more than half also said that they will conduct marriage if one of the partners is tested positive. Religion was found to influence respondents’ attitude in making premarital HIV screening mandatory, rejection among respondents members on premarital HIV screening and conduction of marriage without premarital HIV screening.
CONCLUSION: In as much as premarital HIV screening is good; members should be convinced to do this screening and not to be coerced by these religious leaders, thus, stepping on one of their human right.
Awareness, Attitude, Practice, Religious leaders, HIV, premarital screening