Background HIV, Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are life threatening viral infections. Co-infections are possible since they share routes of transmission through exchange of blood/body fluids. Youths are the most vulnerable to HIV infection due to unsafe practices. There is no free counselling and testing for HBV/HCV in Nigeria, hence many may not be aware of their HBV/HCV status. This study assessed prevalence, knowledge and risk factors of transmission among University students in order to provide preventive intervention.
Methods Previously counselled/consenting university students (total=903, M=502, F=428; age range 16–40 years; mean age 19 years) were enrolled. Relevant information was collected through questionnaire. About 5 ml of blood was collected from each student and serum recovered was analysed for detectable HIV antigens/antibodies using specific ELISA kit. HIV antigen/antibody-positives were analysed for detectable hepatitis B surface antigen and anti-HCV. The HIV and HBV-positives were compared in terms of gender, age group, and risk factors by use of chi-square and Fischer exact tests, with two-tailed significance using SPSS version 20.0.1 for Windows.
Result Of the 930 students examined, 630 (67.7%) were sexually active and 104 (16.5%) had multiple sex partners. Knowledge of HIV, HBV and HCV status was 55%, 36.3% and 4.2% respectively. Overall, 13 (1.40%) students had detectable HIV antigens and/or antibodies, 5 (38.5%) of whom were HBV-positive, none had HCV infection. All HBV-positive students were ignorant of their HBV status. HIV and HBV-positive students fall within age range 15–24 years with higher HIV/HBV prevalence in females than males. Statistical significance exists between HIV, HBV prevalence and a) gender, b) number of sex partners, and c) sharing sharps with people of unknown HIV/HBV status (p=0.005; 0.002 and 0.005, respectively).
Conclusion Knowledge about HBV and HCV is generally low among the students. Awareness campaigns specifically tailored towards educating young adults on HIV, HBV and HCV prevention/control should be encouraged.
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