Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the leading cause of death in sub-Sahara Africa. A major focal point of the epidemiology and spread of HIV infection and AIDS is HIV/AIDS related knowledge, especially as these affect AIDS risk behaviors in vulnerable populations of Africa. While HIV testing serves as the gateway to treatment, care, and prevention of HIV/AIDS; uptake of HIV testing is very low in sub-Saharan Africa. This study was conducted to assess the HIV/AIDS related knowledge, risk perception and practice of HIV confidential counseling and testing among patients in Sokoto. A descriptive cross-sectional study among 184 randomly selected patients attending the medical outpatient clinic of Specialist Hospital Sokoto, Nigeria was conducted in September 2010. Informed consent was taken and information was collected by a pre-designed questionnaire, data analysis was done using computer software, SPSS version 17. Almost all the patients (97.8%) have heard about HIV/AIDS. Although only 18.3% knew the causative agent, majority had adequate knowledge of transmission (71.1%) and prevention (62.2%) of the disease, with a few among them having some misconceptions. Most (89.4%) perceived the disease to be a serious threat to them, but some still engaged in sharing needle with another person (12.2%), and casual sex (8.3%). Barely half (57.2%) knew where to do HIV test, and only 23.9% have been tested for HIV. Inadequate awareness and poor practice of HIV testing was demonstrated in this study despite adequate knowledge and perception of risk of HIV/AIDS. This suggests the need for all the stakeholders to intensify health education aimed at removing misconceptions about the disease and improving uptake of HIV testing.
Key words: Acquired immune deficiency syndrome/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV/AIDS), knowledge, risk perception, confidential counseling and testing.
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