July 7, 2008
The KwaZulu-Natal health department warned Wednesday that AIDS patients in Durban are being targeted by thieves who are stealing their Stocrin. The HIV drug is reportedly being crushed, mixed with marijuana, and sold in the townships. "The concoction of Stocrin and dagga [marijuana] is very dangerous and eventually leads to death," said Anwar Jeewa, director of the Minds Alive rehabilitation center. "The drug mixture breaks down the immune system and reduces the resistance of the body." Some patients have complained they were ambushed after picking up their medication; others said they were attacked at home by robbers looking for the drug. "This practice is disturbing: A large number of HIV patients depend on the state-sponsored treatment to stay healthy," said department spokesperson Leon Mbangwa. The department, however, dismissed media reports that some health workers routinely sell the drug to criminal rings.