Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Knowledge, attitude and practice towards voluntary counseling and testing among university students in North West Ethiopia: a cross sectional study

Zelalem Addis1*, Aregawi Yalew1, Yitayal Shiferaw1, Abebe Alemu1, Wubet Birhan1, Biniam Mathewose1 and Belayenesh Tachebele2

Author Affiliations

1 University of Gondar, College of Medicine and Health Science, School of Biomedical and Laboratory Sciences, P.O. Box 196, Gondar, Ethiopia

2 University of Gondar, Hospital Laboratory, P.O. Box 196, Gondar, Ethiopia

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:714  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-714

Published: 2 August 2013



Voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) is one among different approaches which have been implemented as an attempt to slow the spread of HIV infection and minimize its impact at the individual, family and society level. VCT is perceived to be an effective strategy in risk reduction among sexually active young people like tertiary level students. Ethiopia as a country with high burden of HIV started responding to the epidemic by preparing and updating guidelines on VCT. The objective of this study was to assess the level of knowledge, attitude and practice of Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) for HIV among university students in North West Ethiopia.


A cross sectional study was conducted from February to May 2010 using a stratified sampling method to enroll students from different faculties into the study. A total of 330 university students filled in a self-administered questionnaire with response rate of 97.3%. Main outcome measures included level of knowledge, attitude and practice of VCT for HIV. A chi-square test was used to determine an association between a number of independent factors and dependant variables.


About 66.1% of the study participants were males with a mean age of 20 years. Majority (75.6%) of the respondents were Orthodox with 63% reported living in urban areas before joining the university. From the study participants 86.3% were knowledgeable on VCT, 73.3% had positive attitude towards VCT for HIV and 61.8% had had VCT for HIV in the past. Previous residence before joining the university, level of education, sex and religion were among the sociodemographic variables that showed statistically significant association with the one or more of the outcome variables. Fear of positive results, stigma and discrimination following the positive results were reported as main barriers for VCT uptake.


The findings reveal important barriers for VCT uptake and suggest strategies to reduce stigma and discrimination.

Voluntary counseling and testing; Knowledge; Attitude; Practice