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Video: Why Is This Potent HIV Medication Being Used to Get High?


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Efavirenz is a drug used as part of an anti-retroviral regime taken to treat HIV. In South Africa, however, efavirenz has also been showing up as a component in a street drug cocktail called Nyaope (or “whoonga”). The mixture usually contains heroin, efavirenz and various other substances.

In this video, Vice reporter Hamilton Morris travels to Johannesburg to investigate the history of Nyaope and the role anti-retrovirals like efavirenz play. He visits local homes to see how users mix and then smoke the drug. People who use Nyaope also discuss the many combinations of other substances—often terrifying—that can also be found in the mixture, including oral contraceptives and strychnine (rat poison). Then a doctor  from a local clinic suggests that Morris try the drug himself to really understand why it has such high street value…