World AIDS Day: Venezuela drugs shortage causes increase in HIV-related deaths

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In Venezuela, this Sunday's World AIDS Day has taken on added importance due to the humanitarian crisis in the country. A shortage of anti-retroviral drugs has caused an increase in the number of AIDS-related deaths and HIV infections, a specialist says.

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It is a constant fear for Venezuelan Richard Martinez that the anti-retroviral drugs he needs every month wont be available. HIV-positive, Martinez has been living with the virus for nearly three decades, but his health has declined in recent years because the drugs he needs, which are distributed by the government, are regularly in short supply.

“From 2016 onwards, or three years ago, the shortages became more frequent and extensive. It's become the shortages of shortages,” he told FRANCE 24. “Lately, Id say in the past couple years, the situation has become distressing and absolutely chaotic.”

An HIV/AIDS specialist, Mario Comegna says around 120,000 people in Venezuela are HIV-positive. That's a little less than 1% of the population and the country's humanitarian crisis has hit them particularly hard. Even if there are no official numbers, there's been a marked increase in AIDS-related deaths.

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