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AIDS Wkly Plus. 1999 Jan 11:10-1.

South Africa plays down faulty condom scare.

[No authors listed]



South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world, with 3 million of the country's total population of approximately 40 million estimated to be currently infected with HIV. With 1500 people in South Africa contracting HIV every day, it is projected that more than 25% of the country's population will be infected with HIV by 2010. However, despite the current state of affairs regarding HIV/AIDS in South Africa and the extremely high level of HIV prevalence projected for the future, South Africans don't buy condoms. Free distribution, began in 1992, accounts for 90-95% of all condom use in the country. South Africa's Department of Health distributed more than 140 million free condoms in 1998, although as many as 1 million were defective. In an attempt to quell the resultant public uproar over the distribution of sub-standard condoms, a senior HIV/AIDS specialist with the Department of Health assures the population that from April 1, 1999, South Africa will adhere to the same standards as the World Health Organization, and all procurements will have been batch-by-batch tested. This specialist also stated that only one brand of condom, supplied by a manufacturer in India, was found to be defective and was immediately withdrawn. Assertions that other batches imported from China were also sub-standard were false. The Department of Health plans to sponsor a National Condom Week leading up to Valentine's Day on February 14, 1999, to promote condoms and their correct use.

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