University students and HIV in Namibia: an HIV prevalence survey and a knowledge and attitude survey
With an overall adult HIV prevalence of 15.3%, Namibia is facing one of the largest HIV epidemics in Africa. Young people aged 20 to 34 years constitute one of the groups at highest risk of HIV infection in Namibia. However, little is known about the impact of HIV on this group and its access to healthcare. The purpose of this study was to estimate HIV prevalence, to assess the knowledge of and attitudes towards HIV/AIDS, and to assess access to healthcare among university students in Namibia.
We assessed HIV/AIDS knowledge and attitudes, HIV prevalence and access to healthcare among students at the Polytechnic of Namibia and the University of Namibia. HIV prevalence was tested through anonymous oral fluid-based tests.
Half (n = 2790/5568) of the university students and 45% (n = 2807/6302) of the Polytechnic students participated in the knowledge and attitudes surveys. HIV/AIDS knowledge was reasonable, except for misperceptions about transmission. Awareness of one's own HIV status and risks was low. In all, 55% (n = 3055/5568) of university students and 58% (n = 3680/6302) of Polytechnic students participated in the HIV prevalence survey; 54 (1.8%) university students and 103 (2.8%) Polytechnic students tested HIV positive. Campus clinics were not the major providers of healthcare to the students.
Meaningful strategies addressing the gap between knowledge, attitude and young people's perception of risk of HIV acquisition should be implemented. HIV prevalence among Namibian university students appears relatively low. Voluntary counselling and testing should be stimulated. Efforts should be made to increase access to healthcare through the campus clinics.
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