In Nigeria, the practise of child marriage is deeply entrenched in culture and the country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. The risks associated with early marriages are many especially among young girls, these include domestic violence, forced sexual act and increased vulnerability to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). The study therefore examines the impact of child marriage on the spread of STIs and its implications for HIV infections.
The study was conducted in Gombi LGA in Adamawa State. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used for data gathering. Stratified sampling technique was employed to select the sample for the study. Two hundred young women aged 15–24 years who married before age 16 years were interviewedand 6 FGDs were conducted. Data collected were subjected to basic demographic analytical techniques and supported with qualitative data.
The median age of first marriage of the respondents is 15.5 years and 60% had primary school education. Sixty-two percent reported having diagnosed of at least one type of STIs. Treatments of STIs were more often than not outside government hospitals and clinics (77.5%). Only 25% of the respondents ever discussed the need to use condoms with their husbands even when they are at risks. There is a significant relationship (P < 0.001) between age, sexual negotiations, level of education, use of condoms and ever contacted STIs
In the context of widespread STIs and growing evidence of HIV/AIDS against women within permissive traditional practises, the health implications of early marriage as practised in Gombi are grave for Nigeria. There is need to focus on the cultural traps to which the practise of child marriage has confined girls in Gombi and other parts of the country, through renewed commitment to compulsory education beyond primary school level for girls.
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