Perceptions of undergraduate students of University of KwaZulu-Natal regarding HIV counselling and testing in the year 2012.
South Africa has one of the highest prevalence of HIV infections in the world. Sexual transmission is the primary mode of transmission across the country’s population. Misinformation about AIDS, negative attitudes to HIV testing and AIDS’ stigmatizing beliefs represent potential barriers to seeking HIV testing. Youth between 15-24 years have the greatest risk of HIV infection but only 37% of students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) had undertaken HIV counselling and testing (HCT) according to the HEAIDS (2008) report. Prevention of HIV and behaviour change includes knowledge about, and adequacy of, HIV counselling and testing (HCT) resources on campuses. The aim of this study was to investigate students’ perceptions about HCT at UKZN and make recommendations regarding improvements. An observational, analytical, cross-sectional study of UKZN undergraduate students on the five campuses was conducted. Participants completed anonymous self-administered questionnaires. Of 965 surveyed students, 663 (71%) had tested for HIV among whom 545 (58%) were females and 501(52%) were 20-25 years. Fear of positive results, perceived low risk of acquiring the infection and having confidence in his/her partner influenced student HIV testing behaviour (p<0.001). A significant difference was also found in positive attitudes towards HCT on campus between people who had tested (median score 20) and people who had not tested (median score 18) (p < 0.05). Since one third of students at UKZN had not tested for HIV, HCT at UKZN needs to be advertised more effectively so as to increase HIV testing by students on campuses.
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