Patients’ names have been changed to protect their identity.
Sanaa, Yemen – With each breath he took, the red rashes on Ahmad’s cheeks appeared to get brighter and brighter.
The eight-year-old had just made his way up the stairs of the al-Jumhurriya hospital in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, one of the few health centres in the war-ravaged country that provides free medical treatment to people living with HIV.
As he took his seat in the waiting room next to his ailing father, the sound of static from an old analogue TV appeared to startle the young boy, further heightening his anxiety as he waited for doctors to call him in for his latest blood test.
Three years ago, Ahmad was healthy and playful, his father Zakariyya told Al Jazeera.
“When he became sick, we took him to the hospital and doctors carried out tests and told us he had problems with his immune system,” he said.
“They later told us it was HIV. My wife and I also took the tests and we also tested positive.”