In Venezuela, the World AIDS Day takes on a special meaning, as the country is still plunged into a serious humanitarian crisis. The shortage of anti-retroviral treatments has led to the death of many patients and the migration of many others, forced to leave to seek treatment.
Richard Martinez lives every month in fear of not receiving his antiviral treatment. He has been HIV-positive for nearly 30 years, but in recent years the lack of medicines in Venezuela has further weakened his health.
"Since 2016, so three years, stock-outs have never been so important," he says. "It's much more common, I would say, yes, it's been three years since the situation became completely agonizing and chaotic."
In Venezuela, 120,000 people, or 0.6% of the population, would live with the AIDS virus, according to Mario Comegna, an HIV specialist. However, there is no official data to show the link between the lack of public policies and the increase in mortality of these patients.
"It's difficult to have figures on mortality because still today, there is discrimination," he says. "Patients' reports do not indicate the link between death and HIV or AIDS, but even if there are few data, it is clear that drug shortages have increased mortality".
For his part, Richard Martinez hopes the situation will improve this year, after the Pan American Health Organization and the UN provided the Venezuelan government with medicines.
There are, however, problems with delivery delays, but most Venezuelan patients do not dare to complain for fear of reprisals.
"During the demonstrations, there must be four," says Richard Martinez. "There is no one because the state does not ensure our security, people are afraid to go out to protest, that's why we're dying because we give more importance in our image only to our health.
More than 10,000 AIDS patients have left the country to seek treatment. Richard does not plan to emigrate. He will continue to fight for his drugs, even though he faces latent discrimination against HIV patients on a daily basis.