University students in Nigeria willing to self test for HIV, cross-sectional study

A recent study co-authored by Dr. Muktar Aliyu, M.D., MPH, DrPH, professor of Health Policy and Medicine and associate director for research for VIGH, assessed the willingness of students at Bayero University in Nigeria to self-test for HIV. The World Health Organization (WHO) encourages the use of HIV self-testing, especially in areas such as West and Central Africa where 64% of people living with HIV are unaware of their status.

HIV self-testing (HIVST) consists of a rapid diagnostic test using oral fluid or blood sample that can be completed in private. The expansion of implementation of HIVST has doubled the frequency of HIV testing and counseling (HTC), an important step in connecting those with HIV to proper treatment. Currently, only half of HIV-infected persons access antiretroviral treatment or any type of counseling.

Young adults are at a greater risk for contracting HIV because of factors like lack of comprehensive sexual education and increased number of sexual partners. Despite their increased risk, there is a significantly lower testing rate for young adults, making university students an important target group. The aim of this research was to evaluate the acceptability of self-testing for HIV among students at Bayero University.

Dr. Aliyu and colleagues found that the overwhelming majority of their respondents would be willing to self-test for HIV. These results are promising, as the implementation of HIVST could improve the utilization of proper HIV treatment. The findings of the study support the feasibility of expanding HIVST among university students across Nigeria in order to improve testing rates and education on safe sexual practices.

This research indicates that HIV self-testing should be adopted to facilitate diagnosis and access to prevention, care, and treatment among this sub-population. University students are a critical target for education on HIV transmission and testing. Self-test kits, counseling services, and linkage to campus health facilities are essential in order to support an increase in comprehensive knowledge and treatment of HIV. This work is an important first step in scaling up self-testing in Nigeria and beyond.

International Journal of STD & AIDS
Acceptability and correlates of HIV self-testing among university students in northern Nigeria 

Zubairu Iliyasu1,2, Radeeyah B Kassim1, Bilkisu Z Iliyasu1, Taiwo G Amole1, Nafisa S Nass1, Salisha E Marryshow3 and Muktar H Aliyu3,4

1Department of Community Medicine, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria
2Centre for Infectious Diseases Research, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria
3Department of Health Policy and Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health,
  Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA
4Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine & Public Health
  Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA

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