Blog Post

Whoonga: A New Twist in the Fight Against Aids

February 27, 2011

A story I filmed during my recent trip to South Africa with reporter Jonah Fisher, is being broadcast on BBC World this weekend. It focuses on a new drug that is becoming popular in the country’s townships. The drug is called Whoonga and is a cocktail of various substances. One of these is the anti-retroviral drug, Stocrin, widely used in the treatment of AIDS and HIV.
Whoonga is the last thing South Africa needs. For years the country’s fight against AIDS was hindered by a confused and much criticised government policy. That’s now changed, only for the country to face this new obstacle.
It was a tough story to cover. At an aids clinic, patients told us how they now live in fear of being mugged for their medication. We also met a doctor who described in grim detail how the drug eats away at people’s insides.
So far there is very little help from the authorities for those on Whoonga. One of the only private organisation’s set up to deal with the problem, Project Whoonga, has been forced to close down due to a lack of funds.
The story also threw up challenges on the technical side. It was shot entirely on a DSLR, using the Canon 5D Mark II. More on that in a later post.

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