AIDS2018: Humans in the Age of HIV-There’s no one influencing me anymore

AIDS2018: Humans in the Age of HIV-There’s no one influencing me anymore

By Nomatter Ndebele

Gloria. Pic by Joyrene Kramer

Gloria lives in Vrededorp, Johannesburg with her partner and her 2-year-old son. She has been on drugs since 2013. Gloria started with Marajuana and then graduated onto harder drugs. She currently smokes Crystal Meth, which Is available in her neighborhood for R50 a hit (less than U$4).

“I used to smoke rocks (Crack cocaine), but it’s very expensive, so I settled for crystal meth, from one bag, I get twenty pulls,” she explains.

Like most people who inject drugs (PWID) Gloria is unemployed and depends on doing odd jobs around the community so she can make some money to feed her habit. “I do people’s laundry or even clean people’s houses to make some money.”

Gloria’s son is perfectly healthy. When Gloria discovered that she was pregnant she decided to quit smoking as she knew it wouldn’t be healthy for the child. When her son was born, Gloria went back to smoking Crystal Meth.

She refuses to smoke in front of her son, when she needs to take a hit, she ensures that her son is outside or otherwise preoccupied. “It’s just not right for my son to see this, and I don’t ever want him to see,” she says. Before she takes a hit in front of us, she asks someone to take her son out of the room.

While Crystal Meth is her drug of choice, she has changed the manner in which she takes it, before she would inject it, but now she has resigned herself to just smoking it.

“When I was spiking, I realized that I was becoming much slower, like my brain was slow, I was slow to respond to things and I didn’t like that.” So far, that is the only bad experience she has had with drugs.

When asked what message she would like to share with the youth, Gloria does not skip a beat. She immediately says “I want to tell the youth not to do drugs, its bad, you cause yourself and your family problems and you’ll end up on the streets.”

When her son was born, Gloria broke away from her group of friends. She felt as though the group was pressuring her into doing more drugs. “I left them, I feel lonely sometimes, but its better like this, there’s no one influencing me anymore.”

Gloria has not thought about quitting at all, for now she is content to smoke her Crystal Meth and go about her life as she does.

This article is part of a Spotlight special series on people who form part of so-called key populations.