Media reports have described recreational use of HIV antiretroviral medication in South Africa, but little has been written about this phenomenon in the scientific literature. We present original, qualitative data from eight semi-structured interviews that characterize recreational antiretroviral use in Soweto, South Africa. Participants reported that antiretrovirals, likely efavirenz, are crushed, mixed with illicit drugs (in a mixture known as whoonga), and smoked. They described medications being stolen from patients and expressed concern that antiretroviral abuse jeopardized the safety of both patients and users. Further studies are needed to understand the prevalence, patterns, and consequences of antiretroviral abuse and diversion.
Antiretroviral diversion Recreational antiretroviral abuse Whoonga Efavirenz South Africa