Governor cancels giveaway of Utah-themed condoms that were part of a campaign to combat HIV

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SALT LAKE CITY — It was meant as a fun, Utah-themed way to raise awareness of HIV.

Utah’s Department of Health planned to distribute 100,000 condoms turning some popular state slogans and landmarks into double-entendres. But it apparently did not amuse Governor Gary Herbert, who put a stop to the campaign just hours after it became public.

“The Governor understands the importance of the Utah Department of Health conducting a campaign to educate Utahns about HIV prevention,” his spokeswoman, Anna Lehnardt, told FOX 13 in a statement. “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 condoms had wrappers that touted the “Greatest Sex on Earth” (a parody of Utah’s “Greatest Snow on Earth”); “This is the Place” (which was uttered by Brigham Young when pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley); the subversive “SL, UT” for Salt Lake, Utah; “Toss the Jello Salad;” and, of course, the local landmarks “Fillmore, Beaver.”

Utah Dept. of Health condoms

Condoms created by the Utah Dept. of Health and Love Communications to encourage HIV prevention. Image courtesy Utah Dept. of Health)

The campaign was a joint venture between the Utah Department of Health and Love Communications. Wyoming and Alaska have done similar campaigns using popular slogans native to their respective states.

They were a part of a campaign to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS in Utah by encouraging people to engage in safe sexual practices. The Utah Department of Health also launched a website, HIVandMe.com, with education materials about HIV prevention and living with the virus.

About 100,000 of the condoms were to be distributed for free through local health departments, the Utah AIDS Foundation, bars and other community locations. In response, the Utah Department of Health said Wednesday night it has told those who would distribute the condoms to refrain from doing so while the campaign is re-worked.

A larger campaign called “H is for Human” will appear on billboards, TV ads, transit ads to encourage people to get tested and options for prevention including PrEP and safe sex methods.

“It’s all about breaking down barriers, and exposing people to something they either don’t know about or don’t want to know about,” Erin Fratto of the UDOH Prevention Treatment and Care Program, said in a statement through the agency.

UDOH statistics show that one person is diagnosed in Utah with HIV every three days (roughly 120 new infections in Utah every year).

The Utah Department of Health is not the only ones to use condoms to spread a message. When he was a candidate for Salt Lake City mayor, former Utah AIDS Foundation director Stan Penfold handed out prophylactics with the message “Stan for Mayor” at the Utah Pride Festival and at campaign events.

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