Tuesday, November 23, 2010


You gotta love the belief that AIDS ‘can be prevented by sleeping with a virgin or showering after sex with an HIV-positive partner.’
Mail Online
November 21, 2010
AIDS patients in South Africa are being robbed of their lifesaving drugs so that they can be mixed with marijuana and smoked, authorities and health experts say.
The concoction is called 'whoonga' and it adds a bizarre twist to the war on AIDS in the world's worst-affected country just as it embarks on a massive distribution of medications.
Whoonga's spread is so far limited to eastern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa's most AIDS-stricken province, but AIDS and addiction specialists worry that it could reach other parts of the country.
There's no evidence that any ingredient of the AIDS drug cocktail is addictive or does anything to enhance the marijuana high.
Whoonga smokers may be fooling themselves into believing the AIDS drugs are giving them a high, when it's really some other ingredient, says Dr. Njabulo Mabaso, an AIDS expert.
AIDS is already a source of damaging myths in South Africa, such as that the disease can be prevented by sleeping with a virgin or showering after sex with an HIV-positive partner.
Some drug dealers are suspected of stretching the whoonga mixture with soap powder and even rat poison to increase their profits.
'We are seeing the use of whoonga in communities and its very widespread. It's a substance that is openly spoken about in communities,' says Lihle Dlamini of the Treatment Action Campaign, which has lobbied hard to improve the government's response to AIDS.
Drug dealers 'are taking this treatment that is supposed to assist people living with HIV and abusing it,' she says.
In the eastern port city of Durban, Thamsanqa Langa said he didn't know what whoonga was when dealers first started offering the cream-coloured powder at 20 rand (about $3) a smoke.

Vincent Ndunge, a police spokesman in KwaZulu-Natal, said whoonga was first noticed two or three years ago when officers found gangs were robbing people of medication as they left hospitals.

South Africa, a nation of about 50 million, has an estimated 5.7 million people infected with HIV. Since taking office last year, President Jacob Zuma has sought to invigorate the previous government's foundering effort, and doctors and nurses are being brought out of retirement and medical students mobilized for an ambitious testing and treatment campaign.

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