Students Perceptions Towards Voluntary Counselling and Testing in Tertiary Educational Institutions: A study of Kitwe College of Education (KCE)
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Early testing for HIV/AIDS offers many benefits for young people in many countries. The study employed Kitwe University College of education students at Kitwe district. A survey design supporting quantitative and qualitative (mixed method) data collection was used. Convenience sampling was used to pick the respondents. The sample size was 100 respondents. The data was collected using self-administered questionnaires. Processing of data was carried out using the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS Version 20) get descriptive statistics. Qualitative data from open ended questions was analyzed using, thematic analysis technique and presented descriptively. Verbatism were used in the presentation of qualitative findings. Data from KCE campus revealed that students showed understanding of the scourge of HIV/AIDS, with VCT clearly identified as a key entry point for HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support. Seventy nine percent (79%) of students indicated awareness of the availability of oncampus VCT services. The study revealed mixed reactions with regard to students‘ perceptions towards VCT service with a slight majority of 52% viewing VCT in a positive light and 45% having a negative outlook. The study revealed that uptake of on-campus VCT services was low and in order to see an increase in the uptake of on-campus VCT services, an improvement in privacy and confidentiality was key. In the opinion of students, the highest consideration with regard to improving privacy and confidentiality appeared to be the calibre and experience of VCT counsellors. The study also identified that continued sensitisation and communication was necessary to raise awareness and reduce stigma. Finally, the study revealed that even though students have high group risk perception, they generally exhibited a low perception of self-risk despite a clear trend of engagement in risky sexual behaviour that exposes them to HIV. As such VCT utilization by the students is still quite a challenge and there remains an urgent need for a review the information disseminated, counselling and testing strategies so as to effectively reach the youth who still remain vulnerable to the scourge of HIV/AIDS.