Hero Condoms face backlash for fake dating profiles


Australian condom company Hero Condoms have caused some controversy with a new sexual health campaign targeting dating apps.

Hero generated a series of male and female profiles on Tinder, each with names that draw from a different sexually transmitted infection; For example, Chlaramydia. The body of each profile would include symptoms of the relevant STI.

The campaign received heavy criticism for its including of an HIV/AIDS related profile, which used misleading information about HIV and its relationship with AIDS.

The profiles named “Aidy” and “Aydes” did not make it clear that HIV does not always lead to AIDS or AIDS related illnesses, nor that people can live with and manage HIV.

Hero’s Chief Executive Dustin Leonard said the campaign is a way to speak to young people one-on-one.

“This was always meant to be an exercise in safe sex awareness and we used technology to reach the youth,” Leonard said.

“We never thought anything much would come of it, but soon people started initiating conversation… it was astounding.”

Hero Condoms have since issued a public apology for their mishandling of the campaign.

“Feedback has suggested that information in the profiles was inaccurate and we apologise for the lack of clarity and sensitivity in discussing the prognosis for anyone who has or knows someone who has suffered from AIDS,” the apology read.

“This campaign was directed at individuals ages 18-25 and one of the most poignant and surprising outcomes was that, despite seeing names of common sexually transmitted diseases, as well as the details about the symptoms they result in, users did not seem to realise the profiles were artificial.”

The National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) have penned an open letter to Hero Condoms’ CEO Dustin Leonard.

Executive Director Aaron Cogle writes that NAPWHA welcomes the “unreserved apology.”

“HIV is a chronic manageable condition,” Cogle writes.

“With treatment, the virus can be fully suppressed to undetectable levels. Meaning, that a person living with HIV becomes virtually non-infectious. With an undetectable viral load, people living with HIV are likely to sustain good health over the long term.”

Paul Baines, one of WA’s state representatives for NAPWHA, described the promotion as “frightful” but said the controversy has created an opportunity to talk openly about the realities of living with HIV.

“I think they’ve got the headline that they’ve wanted.” Baines said of Hero Condom’s campaign. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because if we’re talking about it – then that’s a good thing. Have they used the right nouns and terms? – No, most definitely not. Is it offensive? Yes.

“If it gives us an opportunity though to talk about safe sex, and talk about the reality of living with this, and why we use these measures like PrEP or condoms or abstinence – I don’t know anyone who uses abstinence – but if this gives us a chance to talk about the measures we do put in place to ensure that nobody else get this, then that’s an opportunity.” Baines said.

OIP Staff






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