Whoonga a setback in the Battle against HIV and Aids

In the townships surrounding Durban in South Africa, there are people who would like to have HIV, or so local campaigners are saying.  The reason for this dangerous state of being, is a new drug on the streets; Whoonga.  Whilst it was first used in the Durban area it is spreading into other parts of South Africa, putting, say campaigners, the battle against HIV and Aids at risk.  

The ingredients of Whoonga hold the key to its relationship with HIV.  Whilst it is composed of a number of chemicals including rat poison and bleach more importantly it contains antiretrovirals, the drugs which are used to help those with HIV and Aids.

Usually smoked with cannabis, which has no addictive qualities on its own, the mixture is highly addictive.  Users chase six to seven hits a day, which goes far beyond what they can get their hands on legally, leading to higher crime rates and the usual social deterioration that often accompanies heavy drug use.  

The other option of course is to acquire HIV and get antiretrovirals handed out as a legal medication.  Reports exist which show that many HIV sufferers are selling their own legal supply, even when they are not personal Whoonga smokers, as the drug, formerly of little value is now ‘hot stuff’ on the street.  There are even reports emerging which suggest that HIV sufferers are being ’mugged’ outside clinics for the drugs they intend to carry home.

The tale which is worrying as it is, has a further twist; expert understanding cannot see why antiretrovirals are being used in the first place, as there is no evidence that they add to the addictiveness of the drug, which would suit those peddling it, or that they enhance the high from marijuana. The belief is that the other ingredients are the main active ingredients.  To that end expert understanding is somewhat at a loss as to why this trend is occurring.  

Some suggest that what has emerged as fabrication but there are stories citing this trend that go back to 2009 and the existence of “Project Whoonga,” a project trying to help users and spread the word about the drug, would suggest that Whoonga is very real.

Myths surrounding HIV are already a problem in South Africa, such as the belief that sleeping with a virgin is safe.  The fact that a drug which should be helping in a fight against what has rapidly become one of the most widespread viruses in the world, is being used, purportedly without any real effect, is a worrying new adage in the fight to help prevent further spread.