The food crisis is leading to mothers rapidly losing weight and the high cost of living does not allow them to eat three meals a day. We have testimonies from clients who have lost more than 20 kilograms. They mostly eat once a day, but sometimes have nothing; they are starving.
Other key populations, such as the indigenous Warao population living in Delta Amacuro, have an HIV prevalence of almost 10%, according to the latest research. Some barriers are geographical, as it takes 10 hours of travel by plane, car and boat to reach their location, further limiting their access to treatment. There are also cultural barriers as we don’t speak the same language. This makes communication difficult, which is vital for ensuring that they understand the disease and comprehend how the treatment improves their health. In this kind of health crisis, these are the groups that suffer the most.
Venezuela desperately needs help. Help, which can be translated into money, but it, is important to remember that money alone can’t solve everything; we need help with technical, logistical and other forms of support. There is no food, no security, no spare parts for cars and no news. It’s a perfect storm of things that are working poorly.
As we saw the situation worsen, MUSAS started actions to raise awareness in national and international forums. In 2016, we presented a letter to the IAS at the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), which was signed by 80 Venezuelan organizations to raise awareness about the deteriorating national response to HIV and AIDS in Venezuela and report on the decline of the components of care and prevention.
We need to build on these efforts to urge our government to provide social protection to all people living with HIV who require it, especially providing nutritional supplements and milk formula for mothers who need it. We need our government to guarantee all medical supplies in public hospitals so that people with HIV are treated without any discrimination. We need investments and prioritization of antiretroviral drugs and distribution in the country.
Please stand with us as IAS Members and speak out about the crisis that is crippling Venezuela.
Take action and donate to support Venezuela. Acción Solidaria is a non-governmental organization working on the front lines of the HIV response in Venezuela. Founded by IAS Member Feliciano Reyna, they are distributing antiretroviral drugs to people living with HIV.