South Africa is well-known for its status as a trouble spot for HIV/AIDS, and the government and non-profit groups have addressed the problem by making condoms widely available. Now the South African government is recalling over 1.35 million condoms that were given out at a African National Congress celebration in early January after users contacted officials in a panic. They claimed that the condoms they were given were porous or broke during intercourse.

AIDS activist Sello Mokhalipi of the Treatment Action Campaign perfomed unofficial tests on the condoms himself. From The Washington Post:

“We poured water into the condoms and they were leaking, not just in one place, they were leaking like a sieve,” he said. Looking at them, “you can see there are small pores.” He said the health department had distributed a new batch of condoms last week, which did not leak under the water test. Health department spokesman [Jabu] Mbalula said pouring water into a condom and applying pressure was not a proper test, though Mokhalipi denied applying pressure.

No matter what the specific weak spots, South Africa has the worlds highest AIDS infection rate at 5.6 million people, and there is no way to fully recall the condoms aside from putting the word out there and hoping for the best. The country also recalled batches of millions of condoms in 2007 and 2008, and many are worried that these mistakes will affect the willingness of people to take advantage of free condoms at all. South Africa’s HIV prevention needs are different from those of most countries — for example in the US, where we aren’t sure of our partners’ status and use condoms to take away the risk of guessing. In South Africa the infection rate is high enough that people with HIV depend on condoms to avoid infecting their un-infected partners, meaning that millions of defective condoms spread all over the country is a near-disaster.

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  • in the US, where we aren’t sure of our partners’ status and use condoms to take away the risk of guessing.

    BULLSHIT!

    In South Africa the infection rate is high enough that people with HIV depend on condoms to avoid infecting their un-infected partners,

    URRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS YOUR OPINION.

  • ruggie

    “South Africa’s HIV prevention needs are different from those of most countries — for example in the US, where we aren’t sure of our partners’ status and use condoms to take away the risk of guessing.”
    —————-
    But in SA you can be 100 percent sure your partner is HIV positive??

    • that was my exact reaction. What in the hell?! Is she trying to make a case for South Africa that every body is 99.9& HIV positive because it has the highest rate of infection in the world. URRRRRGH!!!!!! I hated her logic, or is it writing on this or both!

    • deedeestonz

      I agree with both of your frustrations with this statement and I feel that the author probably should have chosen her words better. I think what she MAY have been trying to say is the motivations or reasoning behind condom usage in the two places may differ based on infection rate…either way a statement like this can not be made without proper research results to back it up. If this statement is a result of a study she read I would be interested in seeing the study and learning more about how the motivating factors for condom usage differ based on the infection rates of a country.

  • mamareese

    This has government written all over it. Why not send defective condoms to a population that is being wiped out by HIV/AIDS and swept under a rug. Figures they would do something like this to help finish the job. Ugh, the folks that knowingly did this you forget karma is gonna knock ya’ll sideways for this mess!

    • Hachet

      Is this a theory, or is this a fact?

  • LT

    This is so ignorant. I don’t even know where to begin…but I’ll try. First off, prevention is prevention. When the writer says “HIV prevention needs”, does she mean the methods of prevention used, and not the overall INTENT of prevention? Well, then, she did a piss poor job of conveying that. I’m pretty sure that the universal “HIV prevention need” is to actually prevent the spread of HIV. What a f’ing concept?! The methods deployed to achieve the prevention vary by individual, culture, government, socio-economic status, gender, etc.

    Secondly, if someone has created a way for people to determine your STD status solely based on a once-over phenotypic scan, then please let me know. Because the last time I checked, you could not determine someone’s infection status just by looking at that…this is not the 1980s! One can never be sure of their partners’ status unless the person infected is forthcoming with that information. Effective communication is a key component of any prevention model. The writer has poorly and callously stigmatized all South African residents as HIV carriers.

    This is article is derisive and insulting.