In Nigeria, Christian leaders have been instrumental in increasing the rates of voluntary HIV testing especially pre-marital testing and have also being participating in between 40 and 70% of HIV related activities in other African countries. It is based on this premise it is hypothesized that given their influence on the population, Muslim religious leaders can make a similar effort in Northern Nigeria in increasing the awareness of the population; being a trusted source of information with possibility to encourage pre-marital testing for HIV.
This was a cross sectional study with multi-stage sampling technique and stratification for area of residence and type of Islamic institution was used to select 180 most prominent Islamic scholars. The selected scholars were interviewed using structured questionnaires and the data was analyzed using Epi-Info version 3.3.4.
About 67.8% of respondents were between 31 and 50 years of age, 56.2% had adequate knowledge of HIV, up to 8 scholars (4.3%) did not believe in the existence of HIV and slightly more than that 14 (8%) were unsure. Approval levels of premarital testing was 61.7%, there is a strong statistical association between knowledge of HIV and approval for pre-marital HIV screening (p value of 0.008).
The proportion of respondents with inadequate knowledge is significant. It is therefore imperative to target this group of key opinion leaders with simple, clear, concise messages, specifically targeted to them and delivered appropriately. We plan to conduct a prospective study to examine if increase knowledge of HIV/AIDS would be associated with increased approval of pre-marital HIV testing.
Keywords: Knowledge, HIV/AIDS, Pre-marital, Testing, Muslim Scholars,