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June 2, 2008

Utah Group Rejects Federal Funding

The Utah AIDS Foundation has decided to produce HIV prevention advertisements without federal assistance and is asking private donors to help cover the cost, The Salt Lake Tribune reports (stltrib.com, 6/2).

According to the article, Salt Lake City’s rate of new HIV infections is up 32 percent since last year. The foundation attributes the rise to the Utah Department of Health’s censorship of the group’s HIV prevention messages. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has funded the group’s HIV prevention programming since 2002, but their ads must be approved by the Utah health department, which has rejected some sexually suggestive ones aimed at gay men.

According to the foundation’s executive director, Stan Penfold, state-approved ads focus on testing, not prevention. “We weren’t talking about using condoms. We weren’t being blunt [about] what behaviors put you at risk for HIV,” says Penfold. Utah Department of Health public information officer Tom Hudachko says, “It’d be pretty silly on our part to have a policy that would restrict anyone from using the word condom.”


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