Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has blocked the state health department from distributing condoms with suggestive packaging slogans that were part of a new HIV prevention campaign.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports: The wrappers riff on various Utah memes, with labels such as “Greatest Sex on Earth,” “SL,UT,” an image of a highway sign that displays the number of miles to towns “Fillmore” and “Beaver,” and “This is the Place” over a drawing of a bed. “It’s really just to destigmatize HIV in Utah, and get everybody talking about sexual health,” said Erin Fratto, of the Utah Department of Health’s Prevention Treatment and Care Program, in an interview on Wednesday before the governor’s action. “If the condoms are fun, relatable, sex positive — people are more apt to talk about them, which we’ve already seen.” A statement issued Wednesday evening by the governor’s office said: “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.”
About 100,000 of the condoms were to be distributed as part of a federally funded campaign called “The H is for Human.” Similar slogans have appeared in other states such as Wyoming and Alaska, which both used an image of an oil rig along with the words, “Drill Safely.”
In response to Herbert’s decision, the Utah health department issued a statement apologizing for the slogans, saying they didn’t go through the necessary approval channels: “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.”
Watch a report from KUTV below.