Inspired by the death of his partner, Rafael, from AIDS in 1995, Feliciano launched Acción Solidaria, an organization focused on providing support and advocacy for Venezuelans with HIV & AIDS. He had studied architecture at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and worked at a textile company before devoting his life to help people living with the disease. His organization started as a single center in the capital, Caracas, but has since become part of a network of AIDS Service Organizations throughout the country offering education, prevention, and care. He also created Action for Solidarity in Miami. Services for people with AIDS includes a course on the meaning of life with HIV, emotional and psychological support sessions and medical and nutritional consultations.
Venezuela once boasted a model AIDS-HIV prevention and treatment program that included free condoms and antiviral drugs. But recent economic and political unrest in the country has rolled back the clock. Now, there is a shortage of medicines and reagents, which, in some cases, is forcing people with HIV-AIDS to flee to neighboring Colombia and other countries for treatment and care.These shortages have hit Venezuela’s LGBT community—disproportionately affected by HIV—particularly hard. Countless others battling other health issues have also suffered from complex humanitarian emergency in Venezuela, bringing Acción Solidaria to expand its programs through a broad humanitarian action response. UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst signed a joint statement by UN and other experts in October 2018 calling attention to the unnecessary deaths of children and the elderly in Venezuela. “We have now reached a crisis point in Venezuela,” the experts said in the statement. “Access to healthcare, a fundamental responsibility of the State, is in a serious state of decay. It is shocking that hospitals themselves have become a place where people’s lives are being put at risk.”
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