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Free Western AIDS-drugs sold to SA kids to get high on

By Adriana Stuijt     Dec 13, 2008 in Science
While millions of dollars are spent by foreign donors, especially the US and Canada, to supply free antiretroviral drugs to South Africa, township youths smoke the drugs to get high on.
The free drugs - donated by foreign charities all over the world -- are sold on by AIDS-patients and health care workers alike, a BBC journalist maker has here:
The co-epidemics of AIDS-TB are destroying the South African working-age population: since it first started in 1983 when the first patient died in Cape Town, some 4-million mostly black South Africans of working (child-productive) age have already died from it and some 6-million are now infected. The result: millions of feral children are growing up on the township streets without any parental guidance. They have to fend for themselves and the only way they can survive, is to turn to crime.
BBC documentary maker Tooli Nhlapo said she was shocked when discovering the problem was countrywide among township youths. And AIDS-patients who get the drugs handed out for free, as can be seen in the US video above, are also smoking them instead of taking them as prescribed. There are just not enough health-care workers to monitor that the drugs are being taken correctly. These drugs are meant to boost the immune system and suppress HIV levels - and to stop pregnant HIV+ women from infecting their child with the human-immune-deficiency virus in the womb.
The teens take the anti-retroviral drugs, grind them into a powder, then mix it with either marijuana (dagga, an indigenous plant in South Africa) or painkillers, and smoke it. “When you look at them, just a few seconds after taking it, they are in another world,” says Nhlapo.
“When I asked them why they like doing it, they said it helps them relax and forget about their problems,” said Nhlapo, who says the problem is a national one. “I went back to the township and then I discovered that it was something that was known in the entire township,” she said.
Dr Kas Kasongo, who advises on a South African anti-retroviral drugs panel, says doctors need to be more accountable on how the ARV drugs they administer are taken.
“We need pharmacists and good administrators but again it is a social problem,” he said.
Kasongo warned that healthy people taking the drugs put themselves at risk for their powerful side effects.
The 'social problem" Kasongo was referring to, was the fact that the millions of unemployed, criminal youths roaming South African townships are completely outside the law. They are 'feral', uncontrollable.
Getting a clamp-down going on this new drug-trade, which is entirely fuelled by the free antiretroviral drugs received from foreign donor countries, is going to create a massive ethical dilemma.
Cutting off the stream of free ARVs altogether would create an ethical dilemma -- the millions of AIDS-patients who do take the drug every day, would die very early, untimely deaths.
For the true extent of the extremely violent nature of South African township youths, see the following documentary by BBC documentary producer Louis Theroux, aired just a week ago:
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