Knowledge, risk perception and access to healthcare services for HIV and tuberculosis among university students in Johannesburg, South Africa
Background: An increasingly diverse body of students is entering university in South Africa. HIV and tuberculosis (TB) are pressing health issues for this vulnerable population and the university campus offers an opportunity to intervene with health promotion activities.
Objectives: This study describes knowledge and risk perception of TB and HIV among high school leavers entering tertiary education.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey among first-year students, aged 18-25 years, registered at one of three universities chosen for the study in Johannesburg, South Africa. Informed consent was obtained prior to completing a self-administered, close-ended, structured questionnaire. Factors associated with poor knowledge or high risk perception were identified using modified Poisson regression.
Results: In total, 792 students were included; 53.3% (n=438) were categorised as having poor TB knowledge and 52.1% (n=412) poor HIV knowledge, while 43.4% (n=344) were categorised as having high TB risk perception and 39.8% (n=315) high HIV risk perception. Male students were more likely to have poor knowledge of HIV and perceive themselves at risk of acquiring HIV. Low socioeconomic status was associated with a high risk perception of HIV. One in 3 participants (30.6%) stated that they had never had an HIV test. In total, 24 students (9 male, 15 female) reported that they were HIV-positive, of whom 15 (62.5%) were on antiretroviral therapy. Only 14.1% had been screened for TB in the past 6 months.
Conclusion: The findings indicate a need to enhance health promotion activities among university students so as to aid preventive strategies for reducing the burden of HIV and TB infection.