Background: HIV epidemic among youth is largely ignored and remains invisible to both young people themselves and to the society as a whole, for which reason the young are more likely to carry the virus for years without knowing that they are infected. The study aimed to determine the extent of HIV risk perception and utilization of VCT service among high school students in Debre-berhan Town of Amhara Region, Ethiopia.
Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted among public secondary schools in Debre-berhan Town from November 2010 to January 2011. A stratified random sampling technique was used to recruit study participants and semi-structured administered questionnaire was used to collect the necessary data. Data was entered and analyzed using SPSS version 17.0 packages.
Results: We attained a response rate of 96.3% and a total of 339 students were participated in the study. The result showed that 30(8.8%) of the students were sexually active with mean age of first sexual encounter being 16.4 +/- 2.05SD in years. About 12(3.5%) of sexually active students admitted having sex with different persons within the last 6 months. Among sexually active respondents, only 13(3.8%) had ever used condom and 15(4.4%) had VCT service. There was no statistical significant association between risk perception and ever use of VCT service (p-value > 0.05; AOR (95% CI) =1.0 (0.3, 4.02).
Conclusions: Students in the study area were engaged in risky sexual behavior despite high level of knowledge about HIV. The perception of risk for acquisition of HIV and rate of VCT utilization was low. Thus, education on HIV/AIDS by making a part of school curriculum and encouraging the existing health institutions to provide youth-friendly sexua Key words: Students, Risk perception, VCT use, Debre-berhan Town