Image credit: DmitriMaruta Image credit: DmitriMaruta

A national alert has been declared by Chile over almost 1.2 million faulty condoms. The government had imported the condoms in a bid to increase the use of protection to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and halt the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The Chilean Public Health Institute has issued a statement to those who may already have received one of the imported condoms, urging them not to use them. The condoms that had not yet been given out are set to be held in quarantine until further notice.

Defects in the condoms apparently became clear during outreach classes that were designed to teach the right ways to use condoms. It was during these classes that they discovered the condoms had a tendency to tear easily and leak lubricant.

Further testing of the condoms revealed that they were too small for safe use and that the packages deteriorate quite quickly when handled, putting the condoms at risk of punctures.

The Chilean government had imported the condoms to try and stem the increase of HIV cases, as the disease has been an issue in the country. Some estimates have suggested that HIV cases in Chile have doubled in the last ten years.

Officials have stated that around 25,000 people are currently undergoing treatment for HIV in the country, with a further 14,000 estimated to be unaware that they have the virus.

Some people have criticised the Chilean government for failing to address the conservative attitudes towards sex in the country, which mean that open conversation on the subject is not widely experienced. This could mean that many people do not understand the importance of using protection to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancy.

Alejandro Afani, the head of the HIV Center at the University of Chile, told Vice News: "All of Latin America is conservative, not just Chile. The problem is a lack of political will rather than cultural idiosyncrasy. They don't take the issue seriously or dedicate the resources it deserves."