By Jon Herskovitz
JOHANNESBURG | Thu Jan 13, 2011:
(Reuters) - Millions of South Africans with HIV face a new worry -- being robbed of life-prolonging medicine by drug gangs who use it to lace a highly addictive marijuana cocktail known to its smokers as "whoonga."
As the government responsible for the world's biggest population of HIV infected people -- nearly 6 million -- prepares to make antiretroviral (ARV) drugs more widely available, authorities are trying to stamp out the illegal trade, tighten security for ARV supplies and make patients aware of the risks of theft.
Whoonga mixtures can include rat poison and other cheap substances which smokers think enhance the high from marijuana. Police say lacing it with powdered tablets of the antiretroviral Efavirenz, or Stocrin, has little real effect. But street users believe the HIV drug boosts whoonga's hallucinogenic properties. Read more>>