1.35 million condoms recalled in SA

Condoms distributed during the African National Congress (ANC) centenary celebrations in South Africa last month are being recalled as there are fears that some might be defective.

It is pleasing to note that the ANC had enough foresight to distribute condoms as part of the celebrations since mass gatherings of this kind where thousands gather to eat, drink and party can often be a breeding ground of risky behaviour.

But unfortunately, the 1.35 million Choice Condoms (8 700 boxes) that were sent to hotels, bars and guesthouses in Bloemfontein and were handed out to 10 000 people attending the party may be faulty. And who knows…..a condom or two or more may have found their way into Malawi or a few of the dignitaries may have found other ways of “celebrating” beyond the speeches and cakes.

The Treatment Action Campaign, South Africa, which fights for better HIV and Aids treatment, has said some of the condoms appear to be ‘defective’.

The charity received complaints that the condoms were ‘porous’ and ‘burst during sex’. While the condoms have yet to be subjected to lab tests, the Free State health department decided to be pro-active and recalled the entire batch of 8 700 boxes.

The condoms had been previously cleared by the South African Bureau of Standards.

The World Health Organisation has a range of test requirements for condoms to ensure their quality. Tests include water leak test where samples are filled with 300 ml of water and suspended for 3 minutes or the ‘air burst test’ or ‘tensile test’, which show whether a condom is likely to break during use.

In the USA, a batch is considered unfit for sale if five out of 1000 condoms fail any tests. Different countries have different procedures.

In 2007, the South African Government had to recall more than 20 million defective condoms manufactured locally. Media reports said a testing manager at the South African Bureau of Standards had taken a bribe to certify the faulty condoms…how cruel is that!

In 2008, another five million defective condoms were recalled.

People should not panic. If a condom bursts during sex, you should seek post-exposure tests and treatment. If you think you may have one of the Choice Condoms, cut it up into pieces and throw it out or hand it in at a health clinic. It is a real shame that things like this happen because they undermine HIV prevention.

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