South Africa has stopped the distribution of HIV testing kits after reports emerged that the World Health Organisation had blacklisted them.
Thousands of people had resorted to using the SD Bioline HIV testing kit to check their status, but reports that WHO had long condemned the kits is cause for concern.
WHO in January declared that governments should not distribute the HIV testing kits, because they were found to provide wrong results to patients.
But despite the recommendation, the government again ordered several million more SD Bioline kits in June to be distributed to local hospitals and clinics.
The country's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has stepped in and ordered the department to stop distributing the kits.
Motsoaledi said he is "adamant that the kits would not be distributed in the country".
"That kit will not be allowed in our health care system until such time the World Health Organisation has certified it" his spokesman, Fidel Radebe, said.
Radebe could not confirm how many of 4.5 million testing kits bought by government had been distributed before media reports revealed last week that the WHO had ruled them unreliable in January.
"My impression is it was not in all the provinces. National Treasury is looking into the matter and the department should be able to say by the end of the week what is happening," he said.
According to Eyewitness News who broke the story, the government had awarded a R22.5 million tender for the HIV testing kits.
The National Treasury also confirmed that 4.5 million testing kits were approved for distribution and "maintained that the kit was given the thumbs up by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases".
But since the news broke, it has also changed its tune; the National Treasury department said; "a decision was taken at the weekend to probe how the R22.5 million tender for the testing kits was awarded".
Meanwhile the Democratic Alliance's Patricia Kopane said the purchase of the testing kits had created a health risk in a country with more than five million HIV positive people.
"Minister Motsoaledi must urgently recall the SD Bioline HIV test kit nationally and account to Parliament for how a R22.5 million tender was awarded by the Health Department for HIV tests banned and found to have critical nonconformities by the World Health Organisation," she said.
South Africa has an estimated overall HIV prevalence rate of approximately 10.6%, with the total number of people living with HIV estimated at approximately 5.38 million.
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