Utah Gov. Gary Herbert this week halted the distribution of some 100,000 condoms over suggestive packaging.
The condoms were a part of a new Utah Department of Health campaign — “The H is for Human” — which aims to “destigmatize HIV in Utah and get everybody talking about sexual health,” Erin Fratto, who works for the Utah Department of Health’s Prevention Treatment and Care Program, told The Salt Lake Tribune ahead of the distribution cessation.
The packaging features Utah-specific euphemisms such as the “Greatest Sex On Earth,” a play on the state’s phrase the “Greatest Snow On Earth,” and “SL, UT” — which combines the abbreviation for Salt Lake City and the one for Utah. Others feature phrases such as “Explore Utah’s Caves,” “Don’t Go Bare,” and “Toss The Jello Salad.” The campaign also includes a new website, HIVandME.com, which is displayed on the packaging as well.
Though Herbert “understands the importance of the Utah Department of Health conducting a campaign to educate Utahns about HIV prevention,” he does not “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,” reads a statement from the governor’s office provided to Fox News.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the condoms were primarily distributed by the state’s 13 local health departments, the University of Utah and the Utah AIDS Foundation.
State officials worked with the AIDS Foundation to create the campaign, and the condom packaging was designed via a collaboration with health officials and the Utah-based advertising firm Love Communications, KUTV reported.
Officials with the state Department of Health also apologized for the “offensive packaging.”
“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,” a statement posted to Twitter reads. “We remain committed to running a campaign to help in the prevention of HIV and intended to do so in a manner that better respect taxpayer dollars, and our role as a government agency.”
The idea was inspired by similar campaigns in Alaska and Wyoming, state health officials previously said, according to the news station. Condoms as part of the Alaska campaign featured phrases such as “Harness Your Husky” while “Drill Safely” was one saying seen on those in Wyoming.
As per 2015 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Utah ranked 36th among the 50 states in terms of HIV diagnoses.