Background: Nigeria has the third highest population of people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Despite this, the knowledge of HIV/AIDS and uptake of voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) is still low, especially in the rural areas. This study assessed knowledge of HIV/AIDS and attitude towards VCT among adults in a rural community in northern Nigeria.
Methods: A pretested questionnaire was administered on a cross-section of 210 adults in Danbare village, northern Nigeria. Information about knowledge of HIV/AIDS and attitudes toward VCT was elicited among respondents.
Results: The majority of respondents (59%) did not know the causative agent of AIDS; however, knowledge of route of disease transmission was high, with 71% and 64% of study participants mentioning sexual activity and unscreened blood transfusion, respectively, as possible transmission routes. Respondents listed avoidance of premarital sex, outlawing prostitution, condom use and screening of blood before transfusion as protective measures. Overall, 58 (27.6%), 80 (38.1%) and 72 (34.3%) of the respondents had good, fair and poor knowledge of HIV/AIDS, respectively. After adjusting for confounders, female gender and formal education remained significant predictors of HIV/AIDS knowledge. Reasons for rejection of VCT included fear of stigma, marital disharmony, incurable nature of the disease and cost of treatment. Formal education, female gender and HIV knowledge significantly predicted positive attitude toward VCT for HIV/AIDS among the study population.
Conclusion: More than half of the respondents had adequate knowledge of HIV/AIDS, and the majority were willing to have VCT. However, misconceptions, fear, gaps in knowledge and limited access to VCT remain prevalent. Our findings suggest the need to provide health education and scale up VCT services in northern Nigeria by targeting the efforts of international and local development partners to underserved rural areas.