South African teens using AIDS drugs to get high

What happened to the good old days when kids just used to sniff glue to get high? The BBC reports that South African teens have turned the trend of substituting prescriptions drugs for recereational drugs — like snorting Ritalin — into an unexpected venture: smoking anti-retroviral HIV/AIDS drugs to get lit. Aside from the obvious ...

591269_081208_drugs5.jpg
591269_081208_drugs5.jpg

What happened to the good old days when kids just used to sniff glue to get high? The BBC reports that South African teens have turned the trend of substituting prescriptions drugs for recereational drugs -- like snorting Ritalin -- into an unexpected venture: smoking anti-retroviral HIV/AIDS drugs to get lit.

Aside from the obvious reasons why this recently discovered habit -- grinding up the pills into powder and then mixing it with pain killers or smoking it with marijuana -- is so distressing, teenage users are getting their "stash" from HIV/AIDS patients and health care workers responsible for distributing the medication.

This raises serious questions about the infrastructure for a crucial medical service already stunted by reluctant leaders and lack of funding. It also means that people who need these drugs to stay healthy aren't taking them as prescribed, while others, barely able to get these drugs as it is, have a new obstacle to contend with -- users who are willing to pay and the health care workers willing to sell what precious drugs they have to the highest bidder.

What happened to the good old days when kids just used to sniff glue to get high? The BBC reports that South African teens have turned the trend of substituting prescriptions drugs for recereational drugs — like snorting Ritalin — into an unexpected venture: smoking anti-retroviral HIV/AIDS drugs to get lit.

Aside from the obvious reasons why this recently discovered habit — grinding up the pills into powder and then mixing it with pain killers or smoking it with marijuana — is so distressing, teenage users are getting their “stash” from HIV/AIDS patients and health care workers responsible for distributing the medication.

This raises serious questions about the infrastructure for a crucial medical service already stunted by reluctant leaders and lack of funding. It also means that people who need these drugs to stay healthy aren’t taking them as prescribed, while others, barely able to get these drugs as it is, have a new obstacle to contend with — users who are willing to pay and the health care workers willing to sell what precious drugs they have to the highest bidder.

I hate to think that Barbara Hogan, South Africa’s newly appointed health minister, upon whom many hopes have been pinned, will be wasting any energy or valuable dollars on keeping drugs away from a foolish few, when so many are in real need.

GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images

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