Press statement

UNAIDS calls for the release of five humanitarian workers detained in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

GENEVA, 29 January 2021—UNAIDS is deeply troubled and concerned about the detention by military police of the Venezuelan citizens and humanitarian workers Johán León Reyes, Yordy Bermúdez, Layners Gutiérrez Díaz, Alejandro Gómez Di Maggio and Luis Ferrebuz, who are members of the nongovernmental organization Azul Positivo. The five have been held since 12 January 2021.

“I call on the Venezuelan authorities to release from police custody the five humanitarians working for the nongovernmental organization Azul Positivo, and to return essential equipment seized at the time of their arrest,” said Winnie Byanyima, UNAIDS Executive Director. “A strong and empowered civil society plays a central role in providing much-needed services to the most vulnerable people and is critical to making progress against the HIV pandemic and other health threats in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

Azul Positivo was established in 2004 to work on the prevention of HIV in the state of Zulia, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. UNAIDS has supported Azul Positivo’s work for many years and has witnessed the positive impact of their contributions to the community.

UNAIDS is strongly supportive of the full empowerment and engagement of civil society organizations in the AIDS response and in humanitarian work. It looks forward to continuing its partnership with community and civil society organizations in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as well as with government officials, in ensuring that all people affected by HIV have access to HIV prevention, treatment and social support services and that their human rights are protected.


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


Michael Hollingdale
tel. +41 79 500 2119

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