Health Department Apologizes Over Utah-Themed Condoms

Jan 16, 2020, 7:41 PM | Updated: 8:52 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Governor’s Office has stepped in to halt a new HIV awareness campaign over the packaging of condoms used for the campaign. The Utah Department of Health has issued an apology over the controversy.

“They have fun, double entendres of Utah making fun of itself a bit,” Michael Sanders said about the condoms.

Sanders is part of the Utah HIV planning committee that brainstormed the concept behind the new campaign.

He said the campaign was aimed at raising awareness amongst those at risk of contracting HIV with public outreach efforts that center around a new website that provides resources and information, The site has since been taken down.

“Our goal was to get this information out,” Sanders said.

The campaign was launched in collaboration with the Utah Department of Health and built around the theme, “The H is for Human,” according to a press release published on Tuesday.

“People are afraid to talk about HIV, people are afraid of HIV,” Sanders said.

The campaign included billboards, TV and radio ads directing the public to the new HIVandMe website.

“Once at the website, those interested can find information on local clinics, information on modern prevention methods (including PrEp or PEP), tips to talk about prevention, information on testing, specifics on treatment and available resources for further education to financial aid, among many other topics,” the press released continued.

“We estimate that 1 in 15 of the at risk population are probably HIV positive and don’t know it,” Sanders said.

The campaign, he said, was intended for those living with HIV or those who are at risk. It’s why he said they wanted to take the campaign further with what they consider to be a progressive approach that includes distributing condoms packaged with “Utah-centric” messages and sexual innuendo.

“The purpose of having condoms is not to hand condoms out, it’s to have people pick them up,” Sanders said.

They planned on disturbing the condoms at LGBTQ centers, bars, and other locations where condoms are already available. The condoms include the campaign’s new website on the back.

“We are not handing these out in grade schools. We are not directing these towards people that are underage,” Sander said. “These are adult themes being distributed in adult places.”

The condoms came under the scrutiny of the Governor’s Office, which issued a statement Wednesday requesting that the campaign’s branding be reworked.

“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 Department of Health, in turn, issued an apology, saying they regret the lewd nature of the branding stating.

“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.”

The Department of Health also confirmed the campaign was paused for reassessment. They planned on pulling nearly 42,000 condoms already distributed to its partners. Another 129,350 condoms had been ordered for the campaign.

The campaign cost $353.000. It was funded by federal health grants from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Integrated HIV Surveillance and Protection Program for Health Departments, and the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Ryan White CARE Act Title II.

In the meantime, Sanders has refuted the claim that the designs did not go through the necessary approval channels, saying they worked closely with the Department to ensure approval of all the messages.

KSL 5 TV Live


Huntsman Mental Health Institutes building...

Shelby Lofton

How to find a legitimate and qualified mental health professional

A bill that would have regulated life coaching in Utah has hit a wall, and that has experts concerned for families seeking help.

21 hours ago

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., center, speaks about a bill to establish federal protections for IVF ...

Mary Clare Jalonick and Stephen Groves, Associated Press

Republicans block Senate bill to protect nationwide access to IVF treatments

Senate Republicans have blocked legislation that would protect access to in vitro fertilization, objecting to a vote on the issue Wednesday even after widespread backlash to a recent ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that threatens the practice.

23 hours ago

FILE - Comirnaty, a new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination booster for COVID-19, is displayed at a pharmac...

Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press

Older US adults should get another COVID-19 shot, health officials recommend

Older U.S. adults should roll up their sleeves for another COVID-19 shot, even if they got a booster in the fall, U.S. health officials said Wednesday.

23 hours ago

Lehi Ronald McDonald room...

Karah Brackin

Get sneak peek inside Lehi Ronald McDonald Family Room

On Friday morning, KSL-TV got an exclusive look at the new Ronald McDonald Family Room at the Primary Children’s Hospital in Lehi.

6 days ago

Fewer than two in five people in the US have gotten the flu vaccine this season, according to CDC e...

Kiersten Nunez

Utah faces unusual flu season with third pediatric death

The latest update from Utah Department of Health shows a third child has succumbed to influenza during the current season. Health experts are raising concerns over the unusual patterns the state is seeing this year.

6 days ago

Chris and Aimee Tyler, speaking about their experience with Chris's pancreatic cancer diagnosis....

Emma Benson

‘Cancer can affect anybody’: Utah couple processes pancreatic cancer diagnosis

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and often goes undetected until it's advanced. One Utah County man is fighting for more time with his loved ones.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Health Department Apologizes Over Utah-Themed Condoms