Utah pulls HIV campaign after Governor’s office objects to sexual innuendo

The Department of Health in Utah has been forced to pull a massive health promotion campaign designed to stop the spread of HIV after the state’s Governor intervened and demanded the campaign be stopped.

The campaign to increase awareness around HIV and safe sex featured websites, billboards and posters, TV and radio ads, alongside hundreds of thousands of free condoms that were to be given out.

The packaging of the condoms provocatively used phrases that sounded like a tourism campaign including “Welcome to Your Mountin'”, and ‘SL UT’ – a clever placement of the abbreviation of the capital city Salt Lake and the state Utah.

The office of Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, issued a statement saying the campaign has been cancelled because it was not appropriate to use sexual innuendo in a health promotion strategy.

“The governor understands the importance of the Utah Department of Health conducting a campaign to educate Utahns about HIV prevention,” the statement read. “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.

The state’s Health Department has subsequently issued an apology.

“The Utah Department of Health apologizes for the offensive packaging included on condoms distributed as part of an HIV campaign,” the statement read. “The designs did not go through necessary approval channels and we have asked our partners to stop distributing them immediately. We regret the lewd nature of the branding.

“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.”

42,000 of the condoms had already been distributed and health workers are now trying to get them recalled, 129,350 additional condoms were awaiting distribution.

OIP Staff