lunes, 28 de febrero de 2011

'Whoonga' threat to South African HIV patients


HIV patients in the South African township of Umlazi live in fear of being robbed of their live-saving anti-retroviral drugs.
They have become attractive targets for gangs who steal their pills, which are then combined with detergent powder and rat poison to make "whoonga" - a highly toxic and addictive street drug.
Smokers use it to lace joints, believing the anti-retroviral Stocrin increases the hallucinogenic effects of marijuana - though there is no scientific proof of this.
We have to worry about thugs who will want to rob us for a chance to live ”End Quote Patient Phumzile Sibiya
The threat to HIV patients in this poor community of KwaZulu-Natal province is very real.
"On the one hand, we are battling to stay alive," says 49-year-old Phumzile Sibiya, who has been taking ARV drugs for six months.
"Now we have to worry about thugs who will want to rob us for a chance to live because that's what they are stealing from us when they take our pills."
Ms Sibiya and other HIV patients now visit the clinic in a group to ensure their safety.
"I just don't feel safe at all when I come to collect my pills. You never know where they could be waiting for you. This is very painful," she says as she shuffles along a long queue at Ithembalabantu Clinic, south of Durban


**Published by BBC News Health

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