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Millions more faulty condoms recalled in South Africa

March 16, 2009

The South African Department of Health has called for the return of millions of condoms distributed as part of the government's HIV prevention efforts, after some were found to be defective.

This new development comes two months after the government recalled 20 million faulty condoms made by a company called Zalatex. An official from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has been accused of accepting bribes to approve the Zalatex condoms, which failed to meet quality standards.

Now it has emerged that five batches of condoms made by Kohrs Medical Supplies have failed an air burst test. This shows the condoms were not as strong as they should have been, though it does not necessarily mean they would have burst during normal use. There is no evidence that bribes were involved in this case.
One million Kohrs condoms are already in quarantine and the government is appealing for the return of all others bearing the batch number 6809/MED. It is thought that up to four million such condoms may be in circulation. So far barely half of the 20 million Zalatex condoms have been recovered.

Experts fear the recalls could undermine public confidence in condoms and jeopardise South Africa's HIV prevention campaigns.

"It's very frustrating. Condoms are one of the few things we are getting right on prevention," said Dr Francois Venter, president of the Southern African HIV Clinicians' Society. "Heads should roll."
The government has cancelled its contracts with Zalatex and Kohrs. This leaves five companies supplying the 425 million condoms distributed each year.

In a statement to the media, South Africa's Minister of Health, Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, sought to reassure the public.

"The SABS has indicated that extensive controls and verifications have been implemented throughout the testing and certification process to ensure that all condoms supplied under the SABS mark and under the Choice brand, comply with standards set by the World Health Organisation," said the health minister.
"The two incidents involving Zalatex and Kohrs should not be allowed to impact negatively on the significant progress we have made in promoting condom use in the country."

Tags: faulty condoms, Zalatex, SABS, Kohrs Medical Supplies, Kohrs, World Health Organisation, WHO

HIV Patients May Have Stiffer Arteries

March 13, 2009

HIV patients receiving highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) are more likely to have a level of arterial stiffness similar to that in healthy patients with high blood pressure, a new study finds.

Arterial stiffness increases the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with high blood pressure.

The study provides new insight into the link between HIV infection, HAART use and the premature development of cardiovascular disease in HIV-infected patients, even when they have normal blood pressure.

However, the effects may not be severe enough to halt treatment, and the study didn't establish that HAART causes the stiffness, noted the researchers, from the University of Athens in Greece. The study appears online June 25 in the American Journal of Hypertension.

Previous studies have found that HIV patients treated with HAART had a higher level of arterial stiffness than HIV patients who weren't treated with HAART.

Tags: faulty condoms, Zalatex, SABS, Kohrs Medical Supplies, Kohrs, World Health Organisation, WHO


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