For the four years since his birth, HIV boiled through Kingsley’s* body, unabated and untreated. The disease may have been a secret, but its symptoms shouted from his malnourished body. It caused rashes to spread across his skin, itching and burning. It drained away his energy, leaving him to sit sadly on the sidelines while his friends played. Some days it left him too weak to walk.
When Kingsley’s father, Kofi, carried him to register at the Compassion student center in their community, Afi, the center’s health worker, immediately saw that the boy was deathly ill. But even she didn’t know just how sick the boy was. When she visited Kingsley’s home to discuss the boy’s health, she found that Kingsley was largely being raised by his elderly grandparents. His father was rarely at home, and his mother had left the family months earlier.
Afi arranged for Kingsley to receive care at a local clinic, but the boy’s grandparents were often unable to take him there. And Kofi often forgot his son’s appointments. So Afi took Kingsley. She sat with him in the bare waiting rooms and comforted him as the doctors ran tests to diagnose the cause of Kingsley’s failing health.
Slowly, answers began to surface. A nurse confided that Kingsley’s mother had previously visited the clinic — and that she had been diagnosed with HIV two years earlier. She had refused to bring her husband and son in for testing and gradually stopped coming for treatment.
Kingsley tested positive for HIV and soon began antiretroviral (ARV) therapy. Afi attended ARV training to learn how to best help Kingsley and his family. Through the support of Compassion’s AIDS Initiative, Kingsley began treatments, which included nutritional supplements to keep his strength up.
Kingsley’s improved health brought hope to Kofi — who at first believed his son’s diagnosis meant certain death. He and Kingsley’s grandparents are now active supporters for the 4-year-old — making sure he eats the right foods and vigilantly watching for any negative side effects from his treatments.
“I used to think that everybody with HIV and AIDS will die,” says Kofi, “but through Compassion I know better. Just by looking at how my son used to be and how well he looks now, I believe people do not die because they are HIV-positive.”
*All names have been changed.
“We would have been helpless if we came across cases such as Kingsley’s. But because you supported the AIDS Initiative, we are bold to do what we are doing for Kingsley and all the other children [we serve] in Ghana. Thank you.” — Enoch, Compassion Staff, Ghana