Utah Gov. Halts HIV-Prevention Program Because He Doesn't Like The 'Sexual Innuendo' On The Condom Wrappers
A campaign called "H is for Human" planned to hand out 100,000 free condoms in Utah, funded in part by the Utah Department of Health.
Their hope was to try to lower rates of HIV transmission in the state.
However Republican Governor Gary Herbert pulled the plug on the idea.
He didn't like the sexual innuendo that was part of this safe sex campaign. An "indirect or subtle reference to sex" in a safe sex campaign?
How dare they!
In an official statement, Herbert's spokesperson stated:
"The governor understands the importance of the Utah Department of Health conducting a campaign to educate Utahns about HIV prevention."
"He does not, however, approve the use of sexual innuendo as part of a taxpayer-funded campaign, and our office has asked the department to rework the campaign's branding."
Modeled after successful HIV-prevention programs in states like Alaska and Wyoming, they sought to use local humorous references to promote awareness of safer sex and HIV. An advertising firm came up with sex-positive and pun-filled slogans for the condom packaging.
The more eye-catching or entertaining the packaging, the more likely people would be to take and discuss the condoms and their message.
Erin Fratto of the Utah health department, said:
"If the condoms are fun, relatable, sex-positive—people are more apt to talk about them, which we've already seen."
For Utah, slogans included:
"Enjoy your Mountin" with an image of a mountain; "SL, UT" for Salt Lake and Utah; "Explore Utah's Caves"; and "Don't Go Bare" with a picture of a bear.
Utah Department of Health
The reverse side of the packaging included messages about HIV and the website HIVandME for more information.
Volunteer Michael Sanders—who had been distributing the condoms before being told to stop—said:
"I was on my way to the University of Utah when I got word that it was about to be shut down by governor Herbert's office."
Sanders said he called the governor's office for more information and was told:
"It was an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars."
Sanders handed out condoms in LGBTQ spaces like community centers and bars to get the message out to the community.
Utah Department of Health
The Utah Department of Health released a statement saying it regretted "the lewd nature of the branding".
"The designs did not go through necessary approval channels and we have asked our partners to stop distributing them immediately."
"We remain committed to running a campaign to help in the prevention of HIV and intend to do so in a manner that better respects taxpayer dollars, and our role as a government agency."