February 15, 2019: Venezuelan police on Feb. 15, 2019, raided the offices of Fundación Mavid, an HIV/AIDS service organization in the city of Valencia in Carabobo state.
The International Council for AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO) confirmed social media and press reports that said police took donated infant formula and medications for people with HIV/AIDS from the offices of Fundación Mavid in the city of Valencia in Carabobo state. ICASO in a press release said the police also arrested three human rights activists who work for the organization.
“We are scared for the safety of our activists and call upon the global community to help us — not just us, but the people of Venezuela living with HIV,” said Alberto Nieves, executive director of Acción Ciudadana Contra el SIDA, a Venezuelan HIV/AIDS service organization, in the ICASO press release.
The Washington Blade earlier this week reported Venezuelans with HIV/AIDS are dying because of an acute lack of available antiretroviral drugs in the country, which has the world’s largest known oil reserves.
Two shipments with 300,000 bottles of the antiretroviral drug Tenofovir, Lamivudine and Dolutegravir (TLD) that the Pan-American Health Organization Strategic Fund purchased arrived in Venezuela on Dec. 23, 2018, and on Jan. 16.
Fundación Mavid is among the more than two dozen Venezuelan HIV/AIDS service and advocacy organizations who wrote to Health Minister Carlos Alvarado on Feb. 4 to say none of the bottles from the two shipments had been distributed from a warehouse that is located on a military base in Miranda state. The letter also notes “millions and millions of pills of antiretroviral drugs are stored and withheld without justification.” at the warehouse.
The Washington Blade on Monday spoke with Fundación Mavid President Eduardo Franco, who is also secretary of Red Venezolana de Gente Positiva, a nationwide HIV/AIDS advocacy group that is based in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, about the plight of Venezuelans with HIV/AIDS.
“We have a very serious situation,” said Franco.
Venezuela’s worsening economic and political crisis has exacerbated the already precarious situation of people with HIV/AIDS.
Millions of Venezuelans have migrated to neighboring Colombia and other countries in recent years.
National Assembly President Juan Guaidó declared himself president last month, even though President Nicolás Maduro won the country’s disputed presidential election that took place in May 2018. The U.S. is among the countries that have officially recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim leader.
The Blade has reached out to the Venezuelan government for comment on the Fundación Mavid raid.
People wait in the waiting room at an HIV/STI clinic in Caracas, Venezuela, on Feb. 13. 2019. Venezuelan HIV/AIDS service providers tell the Washington Blade that people with HIV/AIDS are dying because of an acute shortage of available anti-retroviral drugs in the country.
By Michael K. Lavers
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