epidemics have reached an alarming rates globally and most especially in
Sub-Sahara Africa with adverse political, economic and social implications.
Nigeria is one of the countries with prevalence rate of greater than 4%, and a
prevalence of 1.2% and 2.9% in males and females in the age group 15-24 years
respectively (UNAIDS/WHO, 2008). Various preventive strategies have been
employed to curb the spread of HIV infection because there is presently no
cure. Abstinence, avoidance of multiple sexual partners, condom use, voluntary
counseling and testing (VCT), and treatment of HIV-infected individuals form
the cornerstone of HIV prevention. Despite these challenges, the patronage of
Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) by youths and other vulnerable groups in
Nigeria was reported to be very low by previous studies. This study therefore
evaluates the acceptance and barriers to uptake of HIV testing and counseling
among students of tertiary institutions in Owo, Ondo State Nigeria.
total 330 undergraduates from two institutions; Rufus Giwa Polytechnic and
Achievers’ University were interviewed in May, 2013. Stratified and systematic
random sampling techniques were adopted and a combination of close-ended and
open-ended questionnaires were used as instruments for data collection.
Majority (90.2%) of the
respondents to this study knew that HIV is the cause of HIV/AIDS, but their
overall knowledge of HIV infection is not impressive as over half (54.4%) of
them had poor knowledge of HIV/AIDS. This is in spite of the fact that 57.1
percent of them reported anti-HIV campaign programs in their institutions
within a period of twelve months preceding this study. Data analysis further
indicated that 50% of respondents from both institutions had had at least one
session of HIV testing, however; only 40.2% of respondents underwent HIV
voluntary counseling and testing prior to their test. This differential uptake
of HIV testing was found to be statistically significant at p<0.01. Most of
the respondents (40.3%) that have never had HIV test reported lack of access to
a screening facility as a major obstacle to having an HIV test done. In a
similar vein, respondents that had no intention of having HIV test reported
fear of a positive test result (30.9%), not sexually active (24.7%), denial of
risk (17.3%) and fear of stigma and discrimination (16%) as reasons why they
have never considered HIV testing. Gender of
had no effect on subjects’ willingness to have VCT as 48.1% and 53.6% of males
and females respectively who are yet to have VCT reported lack of willingness
significant association were found between previous HIV testing and
respondents’ age group, institutions of learning as well as their overall
knowledge of HIV at p<0.05.
HIV awareness programs and screening facilities should be made available in
institutions of higher learning as well as their host communities in order to
improve knowledge of HIV/AIDS among undergraduates and also increase their
uptake of HIV counseling and testing in order to halt and reduce the spread of
HIV infection among this age group.
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