EFFECT OF HEALTH EDUCATION ON VOLUNTARY COUNSELLING AND TESTING UPTAKE AMONG NATIONAL YOUTH SERVICE CORPS MEMBERS IN OSUN STATE
Introduction: This research was carried out to determine the effect of health education on Voluntary Counselling and Testing uptake among National Youth Service Corps members in Osun State. This was with a view to providing empirical evidence of health education as an intervention that can increase uptake of Voluntary Counselling and Testing among them.
Methodology: The study was carried out in two phases: exploratory and intervention. The exploratory phase was descriptive and consisted of both quantitative and qualitative aspects and took place at the orientation camp among Batch A corps members. A pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire was used to elicit information from the 300 respondents who were recruited into this phase by using systematic sampling technique. The intervention phase, quasi-experimental in design, was in three sub-phases: pre-intervention, intervention and evaluation. This was conducted among Batch B corps members posted to Ilesa East and Ife Central Local Government Areas. A multistage sampling technique was used to recruit 158 respondents from each of the two Local Government Areas that were randomly assigned as study and control groups. A semi-structured questionnaire was used for data collection before and after intervention. Health education was given to respondents and the effect was evaluated three months after by reassessing and comparing the study variables. The data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics.
Results: At the exploratory phase, 7.0%, 77.0% and 16.0% of the respondents had good, fair and poor knowledge of HIV respectively, whereas 21.3%, 61.7% and 17.0% had good, fair and poor knowledge of Voluntary Counselling and Testing respectively. One hundred and seventy four (58.0%) of the respondents had positive attitude, while 126 (42.0%) had negative attitude to Voluntary Counselling and Testing. Two hundred and twenty five (75.0%) of the respondents had ever had sex; 83.1% of which had sex in the last 12 months preceding the survey; 16.9% had ever
received or given money, favour or gifts in exchange for sex; 41.2% had multiple sex partners in the last 12 months preceding the survey; only 46.0% used condom at last sex. Very few respondents (6.7%) rated themselves as having high risk of contracting HIV. Uptake of Voluntary Counselling and Testing was above average (59.0%) and the most important reason for testing was to know their HIV status (59.9%). The factors which significantly influenced Voluntary Counselling and Testing uptake were religion, ethnicity, perception that Voluntary Counselling and Testing has advantages and sexual partner’s HIV screening status. Post intervention, health education significantly increased the proportion of respondents with good knowledge of HIV and Voluntary Counselling and Testing by 70.7% and 62.6% respectively (p=0.001). The number of respondents with positive attitude to Voluntary Counselling and Testing also increased by 17.6% (p = 0.001). In addition, Voluntary Counselling and Testing uptake increased significantly by 27.3% in the study group (p =0.001), and 13.6% in the control group (p = 0.016).
Conclusion: Health education intervention was effective in improving the knowledge and attitude to HIV and AIDS, Voluntary Counselling and Testing and its uptake among corps members.
Recommendation: Sustained health education should be given to corps members throughout their service year.