Various studies indicate that school- or university-based HIV prevention curricula can reduce the prevalence of sexual risk behaviour among adolescent youth in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, effective HIV/AIDS prevention education may be problematic, if the needs of youth are not served adequately. To date, little attention has been given to the motivation of youth to learn about HIV/AIDS and about their preferences for HIV/AIDS curriculum design options. The aim of this study was to get insight into the determinants of the motivation of youth to learn about HIV/AIDS prevention and to assess their curriculum design preferences. Students from a university in Tigray, Ethiopia, filled out a structured questionnaire, which assessed demographics, variables that according to the Theory of Planned Behaviour are related to the motivation to learn, and their preferences for independent, carrier and integrated HIV/AIDS curriculum designs. On average, participants were highly motivated to learn about HIV/AIDS. Motivation to learn was primarily related to social norms and was not related to self-efficacy to discuss HIV/AIDS in class. The often discussed reluctance to discuss sexuality and condom use in curricula in Sub-Saharan Africa, seems to be more related to existing negative social norms, than to lack of self-efficacy. Participants revealed a high preference for the independent, carrier and integrated curriculum design options. However, students with a higher motivation to learn about HIV/AIDS were more attracted to the independent course design.