The Impact of Social Change on Adolescent Sexual Behavior in Nigeria

Date of Completion

January 2010


African Studies|Psychology, Behavioral|Health Sciences, Public Health




Nigeria is currently experiencing rapid social change, due largely to the forces of globalization. At the same time, the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country continues to grow, particularly among young people. HIV/AIDS statistics show that young people between the ages of 15 to 24 years constitute one of the most affected groups in the country. There is emerging evidence showing that global economic and cultural forces impact youth sexual risk through various avenues. However, despite this growing awareness, investigations on the impact of these factors on adolescent sexual behaviors in Nigeria are limited. This study examines the impact of social change on adolescent sexual behaviors in Nigeria. It focuses on exploring how socio-cultural factors, particularly global popular youth culture and socio-economic processes initiated by globalization, affect the sexual behaviors of young people in Nigeria. Utilizing the socio-ecologic model and anchored on theoretical approaches in anthropology, sociology and social psychology, the study employed a mixed methods approach to address the impact of globalization on adolescent HIV/AIDS risk. Data were collected using a seven-step process which included key informant interviews, participant observation, media monitoring, consensus modeling, in-depth interviews, group interviews and a survey instrument. ^ Analyses involved qualitative and quantitative approaches. Results from analyses revealed that a high proportion of young people engage in risky sexual behaviors, young people are making their sexual debut at a very young age, with the majority (72%) of those that are sexually active having their sexual debut before age 15. Most (77.3%) have never used a condom, 37.7% have had at least two or more sexual partners, and 17% reported that their first sexual debut was transactional, involving the exchange of money, gifts or favor. Analyses showed that exposure and orientation to popular culture are significantly associated with risky sexual behaviors among youth. Findings from the study provide information on how broader social forces such as economic and cultural globalization play a determining role in youth sexual risk.^