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Venezuelans with HIV follow Bolívar's example and cross the Andes, but to receive treatment in Peru

The country with the largest oil reserve in the hemisphere neglects its people with HIV-positive and lets them die. Since 2012, medicines are scarce and the pandemic is spreading unabated in Venezuela. That is why dozens of patients have embarked on a 4,000-kilometer epic journey in order to save their lives and reach for the promised land where they will find both employment and health.

06/07/2017 15:34:58

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In September 2016, Antonio went back home one afternoon without the anti-allergy his wife needed. After walking long hours through empty pharmacies in San Fernando, capital of the state of Apure (southwest plains), one thing was clear to him: both had to leave the country.

The stress caused by the permanent shortage of food and medicines was undermining their defenses and their situation worsened because they both were HIV patients. It was of paramount importance that they resumed their treatment, but in a country running short of antiretrovirals and common pills to treat a simple flu or an infection, waiting was as harmful as the disease itself. Little did they know back then that their struggle to stay alive would take them a long way around three countries of South America to receive medical attention and to get the vital drugs to control the AIDS virus. Peru turned out to be the final destination.

Antonio and Pamela have lived in Lima with their young daughter for nine months. They settled in a rented room north of the Peruvian capital because this was the only country where they could find employment to meet their basic expenses. "We needed to resume our therapies, but above all, we needed peace of mind. That helped a lot to reduce our viral load", says Antonio, a man of medium height and slow gestures, in a civil organization located in Lima that monitors the supply of antiretrovirals.