Desperate border crossings, as Venezuela runs short of HIV drugs

CUCUTA, Colombia, Oct 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When Danielis Diaz stopped receiving HIV/AIDS drugs four months ago, she had a life or death choice - stay home and become another lifeless casualty of Venezuela's crumbling health system, or flee to Colombia.

Today, the 32-year-old transgender woman is about to restart her free antiretroviral medication at the Censurados Foundation, a non-profit HIV/AIDS rights group that runs a clinic out of a garage in Colombia's border city of Cucuta.

Diaz is one of more than a million Venezuelans to arrive in Colombia over the past 18 months, driven from their country by economic collapse, growing poverty and severe shortages of food and medicine.

"The doctors would say, 'Nothing this month, try next month,'" recalled Diaz, who received free medication for 12 years as part of Venezuela's once-lauded national HIV/AIDS-treatment programme.

"Doctors told me to take vitamins and eat lentils while waiting for the drugs. While you wait, you're waiting to go to the cemetery," said Diaz, who is a hairdresser in the daytime and a sex worker at night. Read more via Thomson Reuters Foundation