Improving access to quality HIV and GBV services for Adolescent Girls and Young Women(AGYW) in Nyamarunda Sub-county

Community Need 1:       Access to HIV and GBV prevention information and services

This is a community need because: AGYW in Nyamarunda Sub County lack information on HIV
prevention as well as online and offline GBV prevention. Nyamarunda Sub County is a rural remote
multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic community composed of over five tribes including the native Banyoro
and migrant groups such as Bakiga, Banyarwanda and Batooro and Baganda. The rates of
intermarriages are high and due to differences in culture, there are high cases of offline and online
gender based violence (GBV) against AGYW yet GBV is a key driver of new HIV infections among AGYW.
AGYW in Nyamarunda face sexual gender based violations such as rape, defilement, forced marriages
and sexual assault on which new HIV infections thrive. Because AGYW are the first to know their HIV
status through mandatory HIV testing programmes during antenatal care services, they face intimate
partner violence on accounts of infecting them with HIV. Most AGYW drop out of school before
completing primary school level due to forced marriages, defilement, rape, poverty in their homes and
cultural norms which value boys’ education compared to girls. This has left many AGYW illiterate and
unable to access HIV prevention information as well as information on where to access HIV related
services such as counseling, treatment and care. In fact 67% of the AGYW from Nyamarunda subcounty
accessing computer training at our rural women’s health information and skills center had never seen
or used a male or female condom and none of them have ever had about PEP or PREP as HIV
prevention measures. AGYW face digital rights violations including denial of the right to own a mobile
phone and access to internet yet these are key sources of information on HIV and GBV prevention.

United States Mission to Uganda – PEPFAR Uganda Community Grants Application of Interest April 2022
During our digital rights and literacy skills project, we established that 72% AGYW in Nyamarunda Sub
County had their phones confiscated by their husbands in order to deny them access to information on
HIV and family planning over the internet but also to deter them from speaking to other men. AGYW
who are lucky to own phones face online violence, abuse and harassment including acts which promote
HIV stigma. A notable example is a case where the pictures of an AGYW living with HIV were
posted/shared on three community whats up groups by men calling her a ‘’moving dead body’’. AGYW
living with HIV have faced online sexual harassment including threatening messages from both former
spouses and community members mainly through whatsup, messages, emails and face book. This has
increase HIV stigma among AGYW and reduces their ability to seek and access HIV and GBV services.

Community Need 2: Access to justice for AGYW faced with GBV, HIV and digital rights violations

This is a community need because: Despite the high cases of GBV (both online and offline) faced by
AGYW in Nyamarunda sub county, AGYW lack knowledge on their digital rights, the forms of GBV (both
online and offline) and their linkages to new HIV infections thus limiting their ability to report such
cases in order access to justice. The local justice actors including the local councils, police, religious
leaders and district leaders who are central in addressing GBV are less informed about digital rights of
women and girls, GBV (online and offline) and their linkages with new HIV infections thus making them
unable to handle such cases. Online violence including online threats, abuse, online sexual requests and
advances are key drivers of new HIV infections and HIV stigma among AGYW. During our session with
AGYW at our community technology access and digital rights center, AGYW have revealed that men
usually send them misleading information on HIV prevention via whatsup and facebook. A notable
example reported by the AGYW was that ‘’ when you have unprotected sex, and you bath immediately,
you do not get HIV’’. Another example reported by another girl was that she received a whatsup
message from a man who wanted to date her stating that ‘’ you cannot get HIV on the first sex
intercourse with a new partner’’. They also lack knowledge on the rights of persons living with HIV
including the right to privacy –both online and offline for persons living with HIV. Due to lack of
knowledge on GBV and HIV related laws and policies in Uganda, the local leaders and justice actors
continue to handle GBV HIV related cases such as rape, defilement and intended HIV transmission and
exposure cases through mediations and community negotiations yet these are outside their mandate.
This limits access to justice for GBV survivors and AGYW faced with HIV related cases and
discrimination. The long distances and costs involved reaching and reporting such cases to police and
other justice actors have left AGYW unable to seek justice when faced with such cases. Most times
when the AGYW persevere and reach the police and local leaders, the cases are mishandled due to
corruption under the disguise of lack of concrete evidence by police and local leaders to follow up the

Community Need 3: Limited capacity by AGYW to hold duty bearers accountable for quality HIV and
GBV services.

This is a community need because: AGYW including those living with HIV lack confidence and capacity
to hold duty bearers such as public health facility leadership (health workers, health facility
management committees, District health office);police; village, parish, sub county and district leaders
accountable for quality HIV and GBV services in the sub county. This is further affected by lack of
platforms for AGYW especially those living with HIV and those faced with GBV to engage local leaders
to demand for quality HIV and GBV services. The lack of such platforms has resulted into limited
avenues for AGYW to present issues affecting their ability to seek and access HIV and GBV prevention,
treatment and care services. Such issues include drug stock outs (ARVs) in public health facilities,
corruption in handling GBV cases, mistreatment and discrimination of AGYW living with HIV at health
facilities in accessing health services.