The utilization of reproductive health services is an important component in preventing adolescents from different sexual and reproductive health problems. It plays a vital role in safeguarding youth in Sub-Saharan African countries including Ethiopia, which accounts for a high proportion of the region’s new HIV infections as well as maternal and infant mortality ratios. Due to this, assessing adolescent reproductive health service utilization and associated factors has its own contribution in achieving the national Millennium Development Goals (MDG), especially goals 4 to 6.
A community based cross-sectional study was conducted from April 5–19, 2012, in 4 randomly selected administrative areas of Gondar town. A total of 1290 adolescents aged 15–19 were interviewed using a pre-tested and structured questionnaire. Data were entered in to the EPI INFO version 3.5.3 statistical software and analyzed using an adapted SPSS version 20 software package. Logistic regression was done to identify possible factors associated with family planning (FP), and voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) service utilization.
Out of the total participants, 79.5% and 72.2% utilized FP and VCT services, respectively. In addition, among sexually experienced adolescents, 68.1% and 88.4% utilized contraceptive methods and VCT service during their first sexual encounter, respectively. Educational status, discussion with family/relatives, peer groups, sexual partners and teachers were significantly associated with FP service utilization. Also, adolescents who had a romantic sexual relationship, and those whose last sexual relationship was long-term, were about 6.5 times (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] = 6.5, 95% CI: 1.23, 34.59), and about 3 times (AOR = 3, 95% CI: 1.02, 8.24) more likely to utilize FP services than adolescents who had no romantic relationship or long-term sexual relationship, respectively. In addition, the variables significantly associated with VCT service utilization were: participants who had secondary education and above, schooling attendance, co- residence with both parents, parental communication, discussion of services with peer groups, health workers, and perception of a risk of HIV/AIDS.
The majority of the adolescents were utilizing FP and VCT service in Northwest Ethiopia. But among the sexually experienced adolescents, utilization of FP at first sexual intercourse and VCT service were found to be low. Educational status, schooling attendance, discussion of services, type of sexual relationship and perception of risk were important factors affecting the utilization of FP and VCT services. Building life skill, facilitating parent to child communication, establishing and strengthening of youth centers and school reproductive health clubs are important steps to improve adolescents’ reproductive health (RH) service utilization.