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AIDS Medication Stolen to Create Street Drug

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A new street drug called "whoonga" that includes antiretroviral medication used to treat people with HIV is hurting South Africa's fight against AIDS, reports Sky News.

Users crush antiretroviral (ARV) medication and mix it with rat poison, detergent and marijuana to get high, according to Sky. The Daily Mail has reported that sometimes the mixture is stretched with soap powder rather than rat poison.

Sky reports that the powder is said to be so addictive that users are hooked within days.

"If I don't smoke it, I get pains and I can't sleep until I get some more," 31-year-old Jomo told Sky.

Demand for the substance has caused thefts of AIDS drugs throughout South Africa. According to Reuters, South Africa has the world's largest population of HIV infected citizens - nearly 6 million.

In Durban, packets of the drug are sold for about 30 rand - about $4.25. Addicts smoke about 30 packets a day.

Officials say that the AVRs don't contain any substance that could deliver a high, but the belief that it does persists. Theft of the drugs could make it harder for the country to treat more HIV patients.

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