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Background: HIV testing services are important entry-point into the HIV cascade to care and treatment in order to slow down the spread of HIV infection. Over half of all new HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa occur among young people under the age of 25, particularly women. The study aimed to determine factors influencing young people’s decision to undergo HIV testing services in Northern Tanzania.
Methods: A total of 536 sexually active participants aged 15 to 24 years old completed a semi-structured questionnaire based on the Health Belief Model (HBM) and the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB).
Results: Males compared to female participants were significantly younger at first age of sexual intercourse (15.4 vs. 16.7 years; p = .001). Out of 536 participants, 418(78%) reported inconsistent condom use, and 203/303(67%) were those practicing casual sex. Only, 189/536(35.3%) of the participants reported to have had an HIV-test. Age, socioeconomic status, perceived HIV severity, attitudes and social approval regarding testing and beliefs about testing procedures and perceived barriers to testing were significant predictors of HIV testing (R2 =.22). Age, unsafe casual sex, perceived severity, HIV-testing attitudes, self-efficacy, social approval, cues for actions and perceived quality of testing procedures were significant and positively related to HIV-testing intentions, while perceived barriers to testing were negatively related (R2 = .36).
Conclusion: The integrated constructs of HBM and TPB provides a framework for identifying correlates of HIV testing behaviours and HIV testing intentions among sexually active youths. Future behaviour change interventions should focus on reduction of sexually risky behaviours, increasing perceived HIV severity, enhance positive attitudes and social approvals on testing, reduce misconceptions about testing procedures, alleviation of perceived barriers to testing and improve testing self-efficacy among sexually active youths in this setting.