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Launches Probe Into HIV Patients Smoking ARV Drug

Updated: Thursday, May 07,2009, 1:03:12 PM
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The South African Gauteng Department of Health has launched an investigation into allegations that HIV-positive patients smoked an ARV Hammanskraal Clinic, Zanele Mngadi, spokesman said on Wednesday.

However, the ministry denied that any cases of HIV-positive patients smoking the drug that prolongs life, Stocrin, were reported in Gauteng.

"We will consider whether any cases have been reported to us," said Mngadi.

Mngadi warned that patients who smoked the drug at risk of complications and psychiatric treatment because of the failure of not taking the whole triple therapy.

In an attempt to curb the spread of drug abuse, the department used residential addresses and official identification to monitor patients under treatment.

"A patient can not easily access to treatment in another province, unless a transfer letter issued by their home province," said Mngadi.

She said it was a criminal matter and urged the public to report such acts to the police.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance said spokesperson James Lorimer Stocrin smoking has an effect similar to heroin.

"The tablets are sold for 25 rand (U.S. $ 3) each. This practice should be discontinued as soon as possible, "said Lorimer.

The DA commended Health MEC Brian Hlongwa for launching an investigation into the matter, he said.

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