South African Teenagers Smoke HIV Drugs to Get High

By Nina Bai | December 10, 2008 1:06 pm

drugsIn the U.S., the kids are snorting Ritalin to get high. But in South Africa, the newest abused prescription drugs of choice are HIV drugs. Teenage schoolchildren in South Africa have been seen grinding up anti-retroviral pills and smoking them, sometimes mixed with painkillers or marijuana. The children say they are buying or stealing the drugs from HIV patients and healthcare workers.

Tooli Nhlapo, a documentary filmmaker for the South African Broadcasting Corporation, was shocked when she first observed the children smoking the pills. Meant to boost the immune system and help the body fight off HIV, the drugs apparently produce a hallucinogenic effect when smoked.

“When I asked them why they like doing it, they said it helps them relax and forget about their problems,” she said. What Nhlapo first thought was an isolated incident may turn out to be a nationwide problem: Many people in the areas she visited were aware of the new way to get high.

Doctors say the abuse of HIV drugs is particularly worrisome if the drugs are coming from HIV patients, because these pills need to be taken as part of a cocktail of several drugs to have optimal effect.

To make matters even worse, South Africa has one of the worst HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world, with an estimated one-fifth of the population infected. The government-supported treatment program, which distributes anti-retroviral drugs, has only been in effect since 2004.

Related Content:
DISCOVER: Why Is AIDS Worse in Africa?
DISCOVER: First New Class of HIV Drugs in 10 Years

Image: flickr / e-magic

  • Jim MAson

    Wow, what a bunch of stupid kids! Whats the matter with kids today?


  • Alex

    Wow, what a stupid comment! What’s the matter with adults today?


  • Rich E. Rich

    this made me lol.

  • bob

    What I want to know is who was the first to do this?
    And what drug is it?

  • PH

    God, let these kids just be executed and solve the issue entirely. Frigging morons….

  • Mohammad

    ya… lets execute these kids and lets keep mass producing pills for kids in america to snort up! du-ma!

  • Rolf

    The issue is that the drugs are being taken from needy patients, not that kids somewhere are getting high. See things in perspective you fucking morons

  • Aston


    I hope karma bites you in the ass on this one…and gives you HIV.

    I don’t blame them one bit for wanting to escape mentally. Of course a pissant like you would never be able to comprehend what its like to see the would through someone else’s perspective.

  • Brian

    These kids life expectancy is so low compared to us. Any of you morons in their position would get high on this stuff. Not to mention alot of you living outside of hell (africa) get high anyways even with your perfect lives.

  • In the Know

    “The government-supported treatment program, which distributes anti-retroviral drugs, has only been in effect since 2004.”

    And by government supported they mean using United States PEPFAR Funds… glad my tax dollars can get South African teenagers high

  • Brian

    Hopefully PH’s kids suffer the same fate and maybe then he will start humanizing people instead of just judging them heavy-handedly.


  • JD

    The government there should pass a law making it illegal to smoke HIV drugs and put an end to this! Then they should pass a law making it illegal to have AIDS. Problem solved.

  • Tyler

    They did it for the lulz

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  • Robert White

    Wow, how close minded all of you that posted are. You don’t understand there circumstance, their world they live in, nor do you understand how their life is. There are many reasons why this has happened and if you actually cared about your fellow person in this world you wouldn’t degrade them but rather send aid for them. These kids need education, without it they are lost. Same thing is happening in the U.S. You just don’t here about it because the U.S. is mostly made up of close minded and uneducated people. If only this world had some substance to it. Unfortunately this world is stuck in an age of many problems including pain and suffering rather than joy and peace. It is so easy to accomplish this, but it needs every person in the world to start caring about their fellow people in the world. Wow how sad this really is.

  • Alex is a dirtbag

    Or just let em get PWN/D by the HIV itself lol

  • Brandon C

    Human-kind will always find ways to alter/escape reality.

    You do it, too. These kids just smoke pills.

    Bad things happen, but I would never blame the kids on this. This is a shared fault, as most are.

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  • Dr.Psilo

    Sounds like BS to me. See “jenkem”.

  • bonus-up

    Bad news all round really.

    Sometimes hallucinogenics can give perspective.

    The best you can hope for in such a dire situation.

  • ntopics

    Doing social drugs is a social practice. I know people who had
    friends that didn’t do social drugs, and they never did social drugs
    either. Some people who lose social drug friends lose the drugs too.
    Drugs don’t make life better, but for some people drugs become something
    to do then those people become addicted to social drugs.

    thanks from tony

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  • Morne Wolfaardt

    I live in South Africa, a lot has changed in schools and worse our kids are getting worse by the day. The drug they are talking about here, is for people that have got HIV. A lot of pregnant women take it to not get their babies infected with AIDS.

    Everything is getting worse by the day in South Africa, we have a huge crime rate, and a lot of the African countries like Zimbabwe and other is making it harder and worse by the day.

  • Sinudeity

    Fucking IGNORANT Americans commenting on a country you couldn’t even point out on a map. No wonder the world hates yall so much.

  • NW

    Does anyone know if the drugs still work as anti-HIV medication when they’re smoked? If so then this could ultimately be a good thing…

  • Dave

    Sinudeity, All the world is breaking down our borders to come to America.
    The best thing ever to happen on the earth is The United States.
    I’ll bet there isn’t ANY immigration problem in the hell hole called Africa, the anus of the Earth.

  • Ingrid Blank

    Well, Dave, contrary to your arrogant and downright stupid assumption that Africa is the anus of the earth, let me assure you that there is plenty of intelligent life out here in Africa, which happens to be my home. Sadly, the same cannot be said about many Americans, of which you are the typical example, which is not surprising given the fact that your brains have systematically been scrambled with mercury, aluminium, formaldehyde, anti-freeze contained in mandatory vaccinations. The outcry that kids in Africa are using HIV drugs to get high would be hilarious if it wasn’t so pathetic given the fact that doctors happily prescribe mind-altering drugs such as Ritalin, which falls into the same drug category as Cocaine, for kids allegedly “suffering” from ADD or ADHD or other invented “disorders”. The biggest drug pushers and users on earth are the United States where prescription drugs kill more than 100,000 people annually, aided and abetted by your Fraud and Drug Administration which approves these killer drugs and unleashes them on the unsuspecting and moronic public and only recalls them reluctantly, if at all, after these drugs have killed a pre-defined number of people (Merck’s Vioxx). Now Merck’s “anti-cancer” vaccine GARDASI (the biggest scientific fraud) and RotaTeq vaccine (diarrhea) have arrived in South Africa despite the fact that Gardasil has already killed 23 young girls and almost 10,000 severe adverse reactions have been reported. Both vaccines contain POLYSORBATE 80, known to cause INFERTILITY. Go figure! The author of the article above is the typical example of the lemming generation, mindlessly parroting the propaganda of the billion-dollar AIDS industry that ARVs “boost the immune system” and “prolong life”. Nothing could be further from the truth given the fact that AZT, for instance, originally was a chemotherapy drug and shelved because of its high toxicity and then quickly reinvented as an AIDS drug.Far from “boosting” the immune system, AZT kills every living cell in your body and the toxic effects include anemia, muscle atrophy, nausea, lymphoma and bone marrow cancer and causes the same symptoms attribute to AIDS progression. Yet in South Africa, this poison is given to pregnant women and babies which brings us to the other hoax, called HIV testing. The Big Pharma puppets in our country, aided and abetted by the Rockefeller Foundation and UNAIDS love to reel in pregnant women because pregnancy itself, flu vaccinations, the flu and more than 60 other diseases prevalent in Africa would give a positive HIV reading. These genocide exercises are called “Prevention of Mother to Child Infection”. Why do you think New Jersey, for instance, wants to mandate flu vaccinations and HIV testing for pregnant women?! Let the dollars in the billion dollar coffers of the pharma mafiosi ring and to hell with human life. It might also interest you that WHO and UNAIDS were caught with their pants down and conceded that they deliberately inflated HIV and AIDS figures and – whoops – there really isn’t a pandemic! Another case in point is the fact that South Africa allowed MONSANTO et al to contaminate our environment and food chain with their toxic genetically modified concoctions based on the “substantial equivalent” principle which was coined by Monsanto’s lawyers and written into law by your scientifically-illiterate George Bush senior, without any scientific validity whatsoever. South Africa is the only country on the African continent that grows its staple food (white maize) in genetically modified form and consumed by the poorest of the poor. Maybe my article below will help change your perspective, particularly in view of the fact that two recent government studies (Austria and Italy) have proved that Monsanto’s genetically modified maize causes infertility and immunodeficiency, notably a drop in the CD4+ count, the marker used to put allegedly HIV positive people on anti-retroviral drugs. This bodes the question to what all these allegedly positive black people in our country are reacting when subjected to HIV testing – a virus or the toxic reaction to Monsanto maize?!
    Correlation between GMOs and multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis—by Ingrid Blank
    “Instead of blaming multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis on patients and their alleged non-adherence to the prescribed drug regime, it would be prudent to investigate and eradicate the underlying cause for multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis and other drug and antibiotic resistant infectious diseases first – namely commercial gene technology! The disaster unfolding on a global scale is exactly the reason why the first genetic engineers called for a moratorium in the Asilomar Declaration of 1975. For decades, reputable and ethical scientists such as Dr. Mae Wan Ho and Prof. Joe Cummins have warned -substantiated by scientific evidence – that horizontal gene transfer, i.e. the transfer of genes by vectors (vi-ruses and other infectious agents) designed to cross species barriers and thus enhancing the potential for creating new viral and bacterial pathogens, will result in the creation of superbugs and multi-drug resistant diseases. According to these eminent genetic researchers, strains of bacteria “crippled” in the laboratory can survive in the environment and exchange genes with other organisms. DNA from dead and living cells persists in the environment and transfers to other organisms. Naked viral DNA (virus without its viral coat) is even more infectious and may well be taken up by mammalian cells including our own! In addition, viral DNA has shown to resist digestion in the gut of mice, enters the blood stream to infect white blood cells, spleen and liver cells. One such virus most commonly used as a promoter in genetic engineering is the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) which, due to its recombination hotspot, is prone to break and join with other DNA to integrate into the cell’s genome, which could activate host genes and lead to cancer. In addition, CaMV is closely related to the Hepatitis B and HIV virus and due to its ability to propagate in plant and insect hosts after recombina-tion may also recombine with related Hepatitis B and HIV to create a most powerful disease in a large number of people consuming large numbers of virus genes incorporated into crop plants. In the South African setting, the number of people at risk could not get any larger, since our government unilaterally decided without the peoples’ knowledge and above all prior CONSENT, to grow our staple food (white maize) in genetically modified form without adhering to the precautionary principle, thus violating our constitutional rights to a healthy environment and healthy food. For the reasons described above it is therefore imperative to demand immediate implementation of mandatory labeling of genetically modified food products in compliance with our constitutional rights of informed choice and consent, participation in decision-making processes and above all the individual’s right to bodily integrity, the latter being the most significant provision of the Nuremberg Code, which sets forth the legal requirements for human experimentation, i.e. ” voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essen-tial”. Likewise, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares bodily integrity central to both human rights and human dignity and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights unmistakably declares that “no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation”. By deliberately ignoring the precautionary principle and refusing to implement mandatory labeling of GM products, this government allows its citizens to be used as guinea pigs, sacrificing the nation’s health for corporate greed. There is no such thing as “substantial equivalence”. This phrase was coined by scientifically illiterate lawyers of the biotech industry and in 1992 written into law by H.W. Bush, who proclaimed GM plants to be “substantially equivalent” to their traditional counterparts and therefore did not need any special health safety study or testing. Ethical scientists and researchers consider this the biggest farce and fraud ever committed in the science field. Contrary to what the corporate yarn spinners of biotech companies want the public to believe, not one single human safety study has ever been conducted! One does not need a PhD in genetics to see the correlation between GMOs and the sharp rise in HIV infections and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and other diseases. The decision-makers who keep violating our human right to bodily integrity by unleashing these toxins into our environment and food chain without our knowledge and consent must be held accountable.

  • Sinudeity

    Dave. all of africa is breaking down our borders to come to south africa. Best thing to happen the us? What about the international turmoil, caused by your chief export, debt?

  • Squally

    Statements such as “Fucking IGNORANT Americans commenting on a country you couldn’t even point out on a map” are as broad and idiotic as “the anus of the Earth”. When reading these comments, it’s important to remember that Dave does not necessarily represent the 300 million people living here in the US, nor does Sinudeity necessarily represent the 50 million folks in ZA.

  • Somebodyunfamous

    Wow, the comments section turned into a conversation about each other and a list of opinions about people in other countries, instead of reactions to the article. As a side note, I’m 100% sure that Ingrid Blank’s comment is the longest I have ever seen; at least it’s well written and seemingly well thought out.

    Interesting article. I can’t say I’m surprised by their choice of drug to use, seeing as it’s probably well processed and a better choice than street drugs made from bleach and rat poison. I’ve already assumed too much and well overstepped my knowledge of drugs in general, so that’s all I have to say about that.

  • Erik

    They did it for the lulz..

  • Steave

    Doing social drugs is a social practice. I know people who had
    friends that didn’t do social drugs, and they never did social drugs
    either. Some people who lose social drug friends lose the drugs too.
    Drugs don’t make life better, but for some people drugs become something
    to do then those people become addicted to social drugs..

  • tselliot

    Hey, I have to say America has produced some fantastic, forward thinking people, unfortunately Dave seems to fit the opposite category, the ones who talk out of their anuses and have no understanding of the world outside of their nearest KFC.

  • poop

    ear poop

  • Quiet observer

    It is very hurtful to read some of the posts. Comments about how children should be handled and the bitter and very distasteful name calling. We live in a very small world and no one in any corner of the world is immune to anything. America has its insurmountable debt and increasing unrest with its neighbors. South America, Argentina, is willing to go to war with Britain. Russia is hanging poster of Stalin through out their beautiful city. We know of Korea, China’s citizens right issues. Not one of us on here can say we are better. There are children on every continent getting high from something.

    Regardless of how you were brought up or wronged others have very deep feelings about where they come from. They old stand in never left. ” If you don’t have anything nice to say, than please be kind enough not to say it.”


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