Wednesday, July 2, 2008
South African AIDS patients in Durban are under siege from drug addicts who rob them of their antiretroviral treatment to get high
The life prolonging drug Stocrin, one of the antiretroviral drugs used to fight AIDS, is reportedly crushed and mixed with marijuana and sold in the townships around the coastal city. The health department has warned that the trend could spark shortages in the city's hospitals and health centers, in one of the provinces worst afflicted by the AIDS pandemic. Patients collecting medication at the Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in Umlazi, south of Durban have complained of being ambushed by criminals on their way home. Others have had their home ransacked by thugs looking for the lifesaving drugs. "The concoction of Stocrin and dagga (marijuana) is very dangerous and eventually leads to death. The drug mixture breaks down the immune system and reduces the resistance of the body," said Anwar Jeewa, director of the Minds Alive rehabilitation centre. South Africa has the highest number of HIV sufferers in the world with around 5.5 million of the 47 million population affected by the virus, and the world's biggest ARV programme with more than 478,000 people registered for treatment.