Teens’ ARV abuse shocks parents

Medication shortages at Gauteng facilities
Covid-19 has concerning impact on HIV and TB targets (File Photo)
Written by Mpho Lekgetho

Residents in Seodin, a village near Kuruman, are concerned that their children are stealing antiretroviral tablets (ARVs) to mix them with highly addictive drugs such as nyaope and whoonga.

The residents have established a neighbour watch forum to fight against crime, and on one of their patrols found a drug den where a group of teens were abusing ARVs that appeared to have been stolen from the community clinic last year.

Teens are not only stealing from clinics but from their HIV-positive parents as well. Members of the Ratanang Support Group for people living with HIV told Health-e News that their children were stealing their ARVs – either because they were coerced by their peers or to feed their own addiction.

The chairperson of the support group explained that it was the responsibility of individuals to take care of their medication.

One mother Maria, who asked to remain anonymous, said she did not know where to store her ARVs after finding out that her 18-year-old son was stealing them – pill by pill.

“I reported my child to the social workers but all they said is that I must change where I keep my pills or else keep the bottle in my pocket or my bra,” she said.

Her son, high from other drugs, has become violent and demands her ARVs.

“I live in fear. I regret disclosing my status to my kids. When my son cannot get ARVs he also takes my mother’s high blood pressure medication. Staying with a child who is addicted to drugs has messed up my life,” said Maria, adding that her son has put her adherence to treatment in jeopardy.

She applied for her son to be sent for rehabilitation but there are no rehab centres in Kuruman and, despite insisting on the urgency of the situation, her son was added to a waiting list for a centre in Bloemfontein. – Health-e News

About the author

Mpho Lekgetho

Mpho Lekgetho is our citizen journalists based in Kuruman at the John Taolo Gaetsewe District in the Northern Cape. She has a qualification in Industrial Psychology from Unisa. Mpho is a former radio presenter at Kurara community radio station. She is currently working as a data collector for HSRC and is also a chairperson of the JTG Civil Society Forum and co-chairs District Aids Council.