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HIV Drugs Concentration in Drinking Water

Dec 01, 2021

By Umamah Bakharia

Today being World Aids Day has introduced research indicating that there might be HIV drug concentrations in our household water.

However, most countries have almost no regulations restricting the levels of drugs in wastewater or in drinking water.

Researchers at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) revealed that they had developed a method to detect two HIV drugs in South Africa’s wastewater, rivers and streams.

DSI/NRF SARChI Chair: Nanotechnology for Water at UJ, Prof Philiswa Nomngongo, spoke to Radio Islam, to discuss the possibility that medication is in our everyday drinking water.

DSI/NRF SARChI Chair: Nanotechnology for Water at UJ, Prof Philiswa Nomngongo

The ‘Nanotechnology for Water at UJ research group has been monitoring pollutants in water when they discovered HIV drugs being present in the pollutant water.

“We are doing this study because one day we would like to have a data to indicate if the HIV drugs are present in the water and to what extent,” says Prof Nomngongo.

In order to identify if the HIV drugs are in the water, missals in a lab have to be created to be able to extract the drugs from the water.

At the moment, there is no data for South Africa but there is selected studies done on the dilation of HIV drugs in water.

Traces of medication has been found in wastewater, however, the concentration is low.

An issue that the research is facing it that because consecutives testing needs to be done, testing costs are increasing. Therefore, the research is focused in Gauteng regions in the meantime.

However, the research found that the concentration of drugs in our daily water usage is very low.

“They don’t really have that much of an impact on us, however, if they do come back to our taps, how [much comes back?],” Prof Nomngongo says this what is of concern.

She adds: “It’s not just a South African problem, it’s a global problem whereby everything we use on our daily basis we relieve in our households [are] not completely removed.”

She advises that consumers should be careful on how pharmaceuticals are disposed in our households.

“We forget that in the long run we are actually harming ourselves.”


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