Update: Kids smoking HIV drugs
» More ways to bookmark this page
A number of our commenters found the story of "Kids smoking HIV drugs"
to be particularly unlikely. As one commenter wrote:
i wanna see the science behind this. Sounds like some jenkem shit to me (no pun intended). i suspect what they are mixing it with is the culprit.
As a follow up, James offered this theory:
There are no specific drugs mentioned in the article other than anti-retrovirals, which could be a variety of things. However, most ARVs are enzyme-like macromolecules with big chunks of transcriptor RNA hanging off of them. By the time they are burned and smoked and absorbed into the bloodstream they would have broken down into a bunch of different simpler molecules, metabolites, and so on. I could easily imagine the breakdown of large quantities of these types of drugs taken all at once causing some kind of dizziness or disorientation for short periods of time, but it is still messed up. My initial guess is that this is probably a way to get high, but not a good one.
And as it turns out, this exact question - media exaggeration or true story - came up on a separate forum, where one of the esteemed contributors offered this useful information:
In the BBC article, Dr. Kasongo doesn't specify which of the antiretrovirals should be avoided altogether for patients younger than four years old or give any explanation why, but efavirenz, distributed in the US under the name Sustiva and in Africa as Stocrin, is a purine-pyridine derivative similar to piperazine and piperidine derivatives from Piperaceae-Piper species. Both piperazine and piperidine derivatives are currently under aggressive investigation for their ability to bind as HIV receptor antagonists and to inhibit viral RNA replication. Efavirenz has well-known associations with psychotropic side-effects such as dizziness, impaired concentration, hallucinations and abnormal, vivid dreams, and it has been sold illicitly along with Viagra (sidenafil, another piperazine derivative) and HIV protease inhibitors to potentiate both compounds in front of the night club Viper Room on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. An article written in May of 2007 reports that South Africans have increased recommended dosages to achieve a "buzz." "They say it gives them a better high than Mandrax and it makes them feel dizzy, weird and have wonderful dreams."