- Background of the study
One of the leading causes of premature death in the last thirty years has been the scourge of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The disease, AIDS, was first clinically observed in 1981 (Gerald et al, 2010). From then, it has spread to all continents of the world and remains a great killer, a disease to which no man has found solution. In 1988 alone, about 5.8 million new cases occurred, bringing the total number of people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/AIDS by December, 1998 to approximately 33.4 million. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS, 2011) estimates that as at 2010, there were 34 million people living with HIV or AIDS worldwide. Since the beginning of the epidemic, AIDS has killed more than 25 million people worldwide. Fifteen million children have been orphaned by the epidemic. Young people worldwide are the sub-group most affected, while about half of new HIV cases are occurring in people within the age bracket 15-24. Nigeria, like other nations of the world, is not left out of this epidemic. Although the virus was first identified in Nigeria in 1988, over 4 million Nigerians were estimated to have contacted the virus by the end of 1998. This makes Nigeria the second country in Africa with the heaviest burden of the disease, in terms of absolute number of those afflicted, second only to South Africa. Ologun (2002) reported that HIV/AIDS is now found in all states of Nigeria. It is equally believed that Nigeria ranked second in HIV infection in the sub-Saharan Africa. The Federal Ministry of Health / UNAIDS (2001) technical report further reveals that about 2.6 million Nigerians between ages 15 and 49 years are HIV positive. The figure increased to 3.1 million in 2002 with a national zero-prevalence rate of 5.8. Globally, UNAIDS (2003) gave a rough estimate that the 10% world HIV/AIDS infection is from Nigeria. As at 2004, it was confirmed that about 3.5 million Nigerians live with HIV/AIDS. This affirmation was made during the launching of National policy on HIV/AIDS held in Abuja on August 4, 2004.The disease is fast destroying the most productive age groups within the Nigerian population. It affects men and women in urban and rural areas, as well as adolescents, commercial sex workers, traders, high profile politicians and socialites; servicemen and women, truck drivers and students. Indeed, several thousands have died from the disease, and this has brought untold hardship and disorganization to many families (Awake, 2002; Odusanya et al). The role of parents in the prevention of HIV/AIDS should not be under estimated. The home and of course the parents, serve as the first agent of socialization for all human beings. It is in the home that the values, customs, tradition and general life style of the society are learnt. Thus the home can be seen as an informal school and the parents and other significant adults are the teachers and counselors who impact these virtues into the children. According to WHO (2007), various studies have examined the influence that types of parenting have on the behaviours of young people, including risk-taking behaviour. Parents are expected to monitor their children’s activities, as well as identify, sift and package information and services for their children. Because parents are in regular contact with children, they help to shape both their behaviour and the social context in which they grow up. The role of the parents, like the school counsellors, should include diagnosis, assessment of individuals’ potential, information, students’ orientation, consultations and referral, counselling both at individual and group setting, follow-up of their activities in school and knowing who their friends are as well as letting them know the danger of sexually transmitted diseases. This study seeks to underscore and present in clear terms, the significant role parents have to play in preventing the spread of the menace of the HIV/AIDS disease among adolescents in our society, especially secondary school students. This role will empower parents to adopt exemplary lifestyles which will enable them to serve as good role models and better counsellors to their children on how to imbibe best practices to keep them safe from the incursion of sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV/AIDS.