South African condom failures result in massive recall
JOHANNESBURG, January 31, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - 1.35 millions condoms given out prior to celebrations put on by South Africa’s governing political party, the African National Congress, have been recalled due to complaints that the locally made prophylactics were defective.
Spokesman Jabu Mbalula of the health department of the province of Free State, which distributed the condoms before the Jan. 6-8 celebrations, said they had recalled the entire batch of 1,350,000 condoms around Jan. 18, according to an Associated Press report.
South Africa’s AIDS Treatment Action Campaign spokesman Sello Mokhalipi said his organization lodged a complaint with the government after “we had people flocking in, coming to report that the condoms had burst while they were having sex,” adding that people were panicking because they themselves or their sex partners were infected with AIDS.
“We poured water into the condoms and they were leaking, not just in one place, they were leaking like a sieve,” Mokhalipi said, describing improvised tests carried out at the Treatment Action Campaign office in the city of Bloemfontein where the African National Congress celebration took place.
“People came from all over and probably took many away with them, so those condoms are now all over the country,” Mokhalipi said.
The government has had to recall leaky condoms in the past. A 2007 recall of 20 million defective condoms manufactured locally was traced to a testing manager at the South African Bureau of Standards having taken a bribe to certify the faulty condoms. In 2008 another 5 million defective condoms reportedly had to be recalled.
Health department spokesman Mbalula confirmed to the media that all the condoms handed out by his department were from shipments that had been quality tested by the South African Bureau of Standards.
South Africa has the highest number of AIDS cases in the world, reported to be 5.6 million. The government’s efforts to reduce the number of infections by distributing hundreds of millions of free condoms have had little effect.
Dr. Edward Greene, the former director of the AIDS research project at Harvard University, said in a Vatican Radio interview about the African AIDS epidemic last June that in populations where HIV is not restricted to prostitutes but is found in the general population, condoms are counterproductive. “Condoms have never been found to be used consistently in any general population.”
“We now know that having multiple concurrent sexual partners is what drives the so-called hyper epidemics of southern and east Africa. So, discouraging multiple concurrent partners is the single most important intervention on behavior change that will bring down HIV rates,” Dr. Greene said.
“Condoms have not proven to work very well,” he concluded.