By Ruth Lara Castillo.
Additional reporting by Carlos Camacho in Caracas.
Representatives of the Venezuelan Network of Positive People and the Manos Amigas por la Vida Foundation (Mavid in Spanish) denounced that since 2016 patients suffering from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have not been receiving antiretroviral treatment from the Nicolas Maduro government.
Diagnoses are also arriving belatedly, and specific diet items for HIV patients get not provided either.
A donation made by the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS will run out by next year, and it is only enough to treat 23,000 patients out of a total of 120,000 such patients in Venezuela, said the Secretary-General of the Venezuelan Network of Positive People, Eduardo Franco. The spokesman also denounced persecution against the organizations that support HIV patients.
He denounced that at the beginning of the pandemic, “officials of the Special Action Forces of the Bolivarian National Police seizure from Aid for Aids International and up to now they have not returned the medicines that are for multi-resistant people. We do not have that medicine in the country.”
The United Nations has accused FAES, the special forces of the National Police, of being involved in egregious human rights violations practically since they got formed in 2017. In 2019 and again in 2020, the UN recommended disbanded that FAES. But so far, the Maduro regime has not complied.
“The aid from the Global Fund was supposed to last for three years, and unfortunately, it ends in 2021. If the national government does not buy the drugs before 2021, these 120,000 people living with HIV in Venezuela are condemned to death. We still do not have a response from the government. It is the civil society that is showing its face because the government has not acquired any meds since 2016,” said the spokesman.
Franco, who is also president of the Mavid Foundation, said there are constant difficulties in the distribution of medicines, most of them, The restrictions of the COVID19 pandemic and the shortage of gasoline in the country.
“From the Ministry of Health they could not respond, or they did not want to, and it is the people from the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, the Pan American Health Organization and Unicef who are paying the transportation for the distribution of medicines throughout the country. We are delivering three months of treatment in all states to guarantee that much (treatment) time,” Franco said.
Representatives from organizations that help people with HIV expressed concern about the late diagnoses in the country and assured that most of the deaths are due to the lack of timely response in terms of care. He also reported treatment deficits for so-called opportunistic infections.
“There is no fourth-generation Elisa (an HIV test), there is not for free (government-provided), and the private one is too expensive. There is no viral load, no CD4. The viral load laboratories that exist in the country gets destroyed, they have no air conditioning, no water, we have to find a solution to this,” he said.