Factors influencing the uptake of VoluntaryHIV Counseling and Testing among secondary school students in Arusha City, Tanzania: a cross sectional study

Zawadi Sanga, Gibson Kapanda, Sia Msuya, Rose Mwangi
Publication year: 

Background Voluntary HIV counseling and testing (VCT) is a key strategy towards HIV prevention yet, the uptake of VCT services among young people remains low. This study determined the factors that influence the uptake of VCT among secondary school students in Arusha City, Tanzania.

Methods A cross sectional study using quantitative methods was conducted. A multi-stage sampling method was applied to randomly select the secondary schools. Stratification, random and systematic sampling techniques were used to identify the study participants. Interviews were conducted using structured questionnaires. Data analysis was done using statistical package for social sciences version 16. Analytical statistics were done using odds ratio to measure strength of association between VCT uptake and independent variables. Association with pvalue < 0.05 was considered significant. Binary logistic regression was used to identify predictors of VCT uptake.

Results Of 400 study participants, 50.5% were male and 49.5% were female. 93.5% of the respondents were aware of the VCT services, 79.1% had high knowledge on VCT services and 75.9% had positive attitude towards VCT services. On VCT uptake, only 29.3% had ever tested. VCT uptake was found to be significantly predicted by age (p = 0.003), sex (p < 0.001), religion (p < 0.001), exposure to VCT information from a VCT centre (p < 0.001) and type of school ownership (p < 0.013).

Conclusion Despite high knowledge on VCT services, the uptake of VCT among secondary school students was found to be low. The uptake of VCT was mainly found to be influenced by fear of HIV test results, knowledge and attitude on VCT services, age, education, engagement in sexual relationships, stigma and distance to the VCT centre. Integration of youth friendly VCT services in secondary schools would increase VCT uptake among secondary school students. Support and care received after knowing the test results should be clearly communicated as it helps motivate more young people towards VCT uptake and reduce stigma among them.