The appropriateness of voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) centres as sources of information for youth: a study of Nyeri District,Kenya.
HIV/AIDS is an impairment of the body's ability to fight disease. The disease is mainly spread through sexual intercourse. The youth are exposed to HIV/AIDS due to biological, socio-cultural and economic factors. Youth vulnerability to HIV /AIDS is made worse by the fact that parents, leaders and teachers have difficulties discussing matters related to sexuality with young people. This has created a vacuum of knowledge, making it difficult for the youth to handle HIV/AIDS effectively. VCT is an essential component of an effective response to the AIDS epidemic. The aim of this study was to find out whether there existed a sufficiently strong empirical basis for introducing VCT services to secondary school students. The study therefore sought to find out whether the youth in secondary schools had access to accurate and reliable sources ofHIV/AIDS information and counselling on a regular basis. The study was carried out in Nyeri district, Central province, Kenya. The study was a survey using ex-post facto research design. Stratified random sampling and simple random sampling were used in both the selection of schools and in the selection of students. A total sample size of 118 students were selected and interviewed from the eight schools that were sampled. One teacher-counsellor from each of the eight selected schools and four VCT counsellors were also interviewed. Different data collection instruments were used in the study. Two different interview schedules were developed to collect data from the students and the teacher-counsellors. An interview guide was used to collect data from the VCT counsellors. After data collection, SPSS was used to analyze the data. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to present and interpret the data. The study found that very limited HIV/AIDS counselling was being done in secondary schools. The majority of the students reported having insufficient information on HIV/AIDS. However, the same study observed that very few students approached their teacher-counsellors for HIV/AIDS counselling. Although the majority of the students and the teacher-counsellors reported that the students had fairly good access to HIV/AIDS information that was available in the schools, the teacher-counsellors revealed that the HIV/AIDS audio and visual resources were very limited. In addition, all the teacher-counsellors who were interviewed had no training in HIV/AIDS counselling, and very few had any training in counselling. The study found that although the majority of the youth were abstaining from sexual intercourse, a small percentage of them were still engaging and some of them had not taken any HIV/AIDS protective measures. This implies that the youth are still vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and therefore, more HIV/AIDS information and counselling is still needed to make them better equipped to face the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Most of the students, the teacher-counsellors and half of the VCT counsellors recommended that VCT services be offered to students. In addition, more than three quarters of the students reported that they would like to fmd out their HIV status. However, very few students reported having ever visited a VCT site and very few clients at the VCT sites were reported to have been below 18 years. This implied that the VCT centers either have not made their services widely known to the youth or there is something about them that is not very appealing to the youth. Results of the hypotheses tests showed that other factors other than teacher-counsellors teaching load, limited counselling skills, lack of well organized guidance and counselling programmes in schools and limited utilization of VCT sites by the youth contributed to students limited access to HIV/AIDS information and counselling. As a result the researcher recommends that further studies be done to establish how HIV/AIDS information and counselling can be made more accessible to the youth. In the meantime, basic counselling training including HIV/AIDS counselling training should be offered to all the teacher-counsellors to enable them to do their counselling job more effectively.