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Utah’s governor defends decision to pull ‘crass’ condoms from HIV campaign

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 19:25:06-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Gary Herbert defended his decision to recall a series of Utah-themed condoms from an HIV awareness campaign.

Speaking to reporters at his monthly news conference on PBS, the governor said everyone recognizes the importance of HIV awareness and AIDS prevention.

“As I read the sexual innuendos and the double entendres and kind of the crass messages on the packages, I thought ‘I don’t know that this is what we want to do as government,'” he said in response to a question from FOX 13.

“Government ought not to do something that many of the people think is offensive,” he continued.

The governor personally ordered the condoms pulled after the Utah Department of Health was launching an HIV awareness campaign. AIDS and HIV activists decried the move, saying it was a clever and effective way to reach people and encourage them to engage in safer sex practices.

Though no state dollars were used on the campaign, the governor said taxpayer dollars were still used.

“I think we ought to be more professional in it,” he said.

The condoms riffed on popular Utah catch-phrases and slogans including “This is the Place” with a picture of a bed, “Uintah Sex?” and “SL,UT” for Salt Lake, Utah. Health officials had planned to distribute 100,000 condoms in bars, local health departments, the Utah AIDS Foundation and the Utah Pride Center.

“The world ‘SLUT,’ in the age of Me Too, all of us ought to be offended by that,” the governor said.

While other states have engaged in similar condom campaigns, Gov. Herbert told reporters he found these more offensive. The governor was pressed on whether any action was taken against Utah Department of Health employees involved in the campaign.

“I can clarify that right now: Nobody’s lost their job. I know that people had good intentions on this,” he said. “Nobody’s lost their job and I don’t anticipate anybody’s going to lose their job.”