SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR AS A CORRELATE OF VOLUNTARY COUNSELING AND TESTING UTILIZATION FOR HIV/AIDS AMONG STUDENTS OF PORT-HARCOURT POLYTECHNIC, RIVERS STATE, NIGERIA
The prevalence rate of HIV infection has been on the increase in Nigeria and half of all new infections occur among adolescent between the ages of 15-24 years old, who mostly are in tertiary institution. Voluntary Counseling and Testing is a strategy towards prevention and control of HIV. Despite findings high level of awareness of the availability of VCT by adolescents and of willingness to utilize VCT, utilization of this service is still low. In light of this, the study aimed at assessing the relationship between sexual behaviour and utilization of VCT.
This research was a cross-sectional survey which was carried out among 357 students of the Port-Harcourt Polytechnic, Rivers state, Nigeria. A semi-structured instrument (questionnaire) was used for data collection. Data collected were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 21 with levels of significance set at 0.05.
There were 125 males (35%) and 212 females (59.4%) respondents with a mean age of 16.96 ± 9.145. It was found that respondents’ attitudinal disposition was below average (49.44%), this was however determined to predict willingness of respondents to undergo VCT [df = 1; R2 = 0.024; P < 0.05]. The result revealed that despite willingness to undergo VCT by respondents was high (81%) only 42% of the respondents voluntarily got tested for HIV. Sexual behaviour of respondents was good (55.7%) however, data showed that only 43% of respondents used condoms during sexual intercourse and also 62% practice sexual relation with multiple partners. Major finding of the study found that sexual behaviour of respondents had a 7.8% influence on their utilization of VCT [df = 1; R2 = 0.078; P < 0.05]. Further findings indicated that opinions of respondents significant others, family and close friends in encouraging them to undergo VCT had an influence of 6.2% on utilization of VCT [df = 1; R2 = 0.062; P < 0.05] likewise was their control beliefs, which had a 1.7% influence on their utilization of VCT [df = 1;R2 = 0.017; P < 0.05].
This study concluded that adolescents’ sexual behaviour plays a pivotal role in determining utilization of VCT among adolescents. This is inferred that adolescents who are not sexually active despite having a high willingness to undergo VCT may not see it deem fit to undergo VCT as such individual doesn’t feel susceptible to infection of HIV, sexually active individuals however are likely to undergo VCT with the perception of increased susceptibility to infection. It was recommended that health intervention be aimed at improving healthy sexual behaviour among students and also focused should be placed on sexually active students on the importance of regularly seeking VCT. The findings of this study will improve health promotion in identifying an important factor to improving utilization of VCT.
Keywords: Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Sexual Behaviour, Voluntary Counseling and Testing, Tertiary institution, Adolescents