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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
SOUTH AFRICA: Three Million Defective Condoms Still At Large
Mariette le Roux
September 7, 2007
Agence France Presse (09.06.07) - Friday, September 07, 2007

On Thursday, a senior South African health official warned that 3 million government-procured, Zalatex-manufactured Choice condoms have not yet been secured. Five million of the suspect condoms that were already publicly distributed have been collected, said Health Department Director-General Thami Mseleku, and another 7.5 million are under quarantine at the Zalatex warehouse.

"We are looking at ensuring that we get all those condoms back," Mseleku said. The batch in question is lot number 4308/ZLX, he noted.

The South African Bureau of Standards' (SABS) tests of Zalatex-made Choice condoms and packaging revealed "a range of discrepancies," said Mike McNerney, SABS' general manager for food and health. While not every condom may be faulty, "the number of condoms within that batch is higher than internationally acceptable in terms of failure," he said.

Zalatex is one of seven contractors the government relies on to provide Choice condoms in its campaign against HIV/AIDS. An SABS official has appeared in court, reportedly to face charges for allegedly accepting bribes from Zalatex to approve substandard condoms. SABS has also found paperwork anomalies regarding Choice condoms manufactured by three other makers, said Mseleku, which has quarantined 10 million condoms for additional testing.

A government spokesperson, Themba Maseko, vowed that anyone implicated in corruption and fraud "will face the full force of the law." A Cabinet statement emphasized that condom use remains the most effective method of preventing HIV transmission.