"There is always the person who will take the hit for others to start a movement. I want to be that person. Tell my story."
The bedroom Ahmed El-Benawy's parents, who is living with HIV. They both passed away, at his home, His mother passed on but was the only support system in his life. His father on the other hand has a strained relationship with his son because of the stigma that surrounds HIV. Dec. 7, 2017
40-year-old Ahmed El-Benawy, touches the fur coat of mother in his parents bedroom at his apartment, in Cairo, Egypt. "My mother is the one who helped me understand everything surrounding HIV after I found out I was positive," said Ahmed, who is among thousands of Egyptians living with HIV. She passed away, and now he wants to leave Egypt. He can no longer stand the social stigma around HIV and AIDS.
Portrait of parents of Ahmed El-Benawy, living with HIV, who both passed away, hung in his parents bedroom.
Ahmed gets dressed in his bedroom, in Cairo. A silent epidemic is rising on the surface as people who are living with HIV in Egypt are still convicted, condemned, denounced, and punished by society till the day they die without having committed a crime. "I was lucky my mother was still alive," said Ahmed, who is among thousands of Egyptians living with HIV. She passed away, and now he wants to leave Egypt. He can no longer stand the social stigma around HIV and AIDS.
A painting by the father of Ahmed El-Benawy hung on a wall at his family apartment, in Cairo. Ahmed had a strained relationship with his father ever since he found out he was HIV positive. "My father changed after I started taking medication. I always used to cook for him but after my HIV status, he told me to start separating his own plates, forks, knives, spoons, and all his stuff from mine. Even the food I make. he would say, 'It is better that you do not cook for me.' The only thing that was left is asking me to leave our home." Ahmed said during an interview. "The first question people ask me is, 'How did you get it?" Ahmed said.
Ahmed shaves in his bathroom.
Ahmed takes his HIV medicine. "In Egypt, someone who is HIV positive - it is better that they die. Because the people who are closest to you will not accept you," said Ahmed.
Medication on the side table in the bedroom of 40-year-old Ahmed El-Benawy, who is living with HIV, in Cairo.
Andre Rieu, Duth violinist and conductor, Ahmed's favorite musician.
Ahmed writes a letter to his therapist.
The cigarettes of HIV positive Ahmed El-Benawy, at his home.
Ahmed shaves at his home in Cairo.
Ahmed drives his car to go have a shisha at a local cafe, in Cairo, Egypt. Neglected by society and thoughts of suicide occur to many living with HIV, like Ahmed who has been recently trying to seek asylum to leave the country out of depression and loss of hope in a future in Egypt with his condition.
A market in Cairo, Egypt. A silent epidemic is rising on the surface as people who are living with HIV in Egypt are still convicted, condemned, denounced, and punished by society till the day they die without having committed a crime. The rise of HIV is not homogeneous. Numbers are still estimated statistically at 11,000 people living with HIV by the UNAIDS and 7,000 people by the ministry of health. However, there is a definite increase in numbers of new infections because of less funds and investments in prevention, "most recently we've been seeing people at a much younger age group infected with the virus. We are seeing teenagers who have bad complications which means they've been infected for a few years. There is a higher risk on adolescence and youth in Egypt more than the past according to new confirmed cases. This is not an unconfirmed statistic unfortunately but this evidence we are seeing on the ground," Ahmed Khamis, country manager of UNIAIDS in Egypt said. Jan. 3, 2018
Ahmed visits his mother and father at the family graveyard near Fayoum, on the outskirts of Cairo. "My mother is the one that stayed behind me and helped me understand everything surrounding HIV after I found out I was positive."
Dr. Lilian, therapist of 40-year-old Ahmed El-Benawy, who is living with HIV, writes a prescription for him at the end of the session, at her clinic in Cairo, Egypt. "The medical care in Egypt is horrible. One of my friends at the association I volunteer for broke her arm really badly. We went to all hospitals and not one hospital wanted to take her because she's HIV positive. I do not want to be living a life always feeling strapped down and imprisoned. I want to leave this country," said Ahmed, to his therapist in a closed session.
Girls play on a rooftop in Boulaq El Dakror neighborhood where 24-year-old Nawal climbed up a flight of stairs in her apartment building and threw herself after she found out about her HIV status and her family forced her to leave the neighborhood, in Cairo. When Nawal's neighbors found out about her status, they prompted the area's residents to hold a meeting in which it was informally decided that Nawal and her family are to be forced to leave their home and the neighborhood, Boulaq El Dakror, for good. She decided after that she wanted to take her own life.
A policeman walks past belly dancing outfits on display for sale and a mosque in the background, at a market in Cairo, Egypt. There is so much stigma around HIV/AIDS because the virus is strongly linked in the public's mind to same-sex intercourse and homosexuality, which are profoundly taboo in a country like Egypt. "The first question people ask me is, 'How did you get it?." says Ahmed. "If someone has virus C, a doctor would take them as a patient. Everyone has virus C in this country, everyone eats from each other. But, it is not related to sex."
A policeman walks past people at a market in Cairo. "Police officials crackdown on homosexuals in the community but this is none of our business. I received calls before from the police asking me for addresses of gay people and I said I will never give them any information on any of my patients who are living with HIV, " said preventative medical expert Dr. Magdy Hezayen during an interview.