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South Africa recalls 1.35m condoms

South Africa's leading anti-Aids group has said that allegedly faulty condoms are among more than 1.35 million handed out at the African National Congress' 100th birthday party.

Health officials confirmed that all of those condoms have been ordered to be recalled.

However the Treatment Action Campaign said that no warning has been issued to people that they may have carried away defective condoms that could now cause them to unsuspectingly spread or contract HIV.

South Africa has the world's highest number of Aids patients - some 5.6 million.

The third recall in less than five years raises questions about the quality of some of the 425 million-plus condoms that the government gives away each year, and the competence of the South African Bureau of Standards that is supposed to ensure their quality is up to international standards.

Aids activist Sello Mokhalipi of the TAC said he complained to the health department after "we had people flocking in, coming to report that the condoms had burst while they were having sex".

Some were panicking because they were infected with Aids and were concerned for their partners, he said.

Spokesman Jabu Mbalula of the Free State provincial health department, which distributed the condoms before the January 6-8 celebrations, said they had recalled the entire batch of 1.35 million condoms around Januar 18. He said there was no need for a panic, but he was unable to say how many of the condoms were used or have been recovered.

In 2007, the government recalled more than 20 million defective condoms manufactured locally but recovered only 12 million. The Health Ministry said many of the condoms failed the air burst test.

That came after a recall the same year of 5 million defective and locally produced condoms. In that case, the Ministry of Health said a testing manager at the South African Bureau of Standards had taken a bribe to certify the faulty contraceptives.

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