City health department employees in Austin devised an interesting outreach program for HIV awareness: They hung bags of condoms and lube onto trees in a public park, according to KXAN-TV.
“It’s just something creative, something unique and we are actually evaluating to see the effectiveness because we want to make sure the access is easy,” Akeshia Johnson Smothers, the HIV/STD program manager for the department, told the TV station.
But the city parks department didn’t know about the bags until KXAN began reporting the story, and neither did the health department director, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Parks department workers took down the bags Thursday, thinking they were litter.
“Plastic bags, of course, can fall into the creek and hurt critters,” Sara Hensley, the parks department director, told the newspaper. “Then we found out it was an effort to educate the public about safe sex, which we absolutely support, but I’m not sure hanging something from a tree is the best way to get the message across.”
Shannon Jones, the health department director, told the Statesman there would be an investigation into why the initiative wasn’t vetted properly. Still, Jones appreciated the creativity.
“The rates of HIV in our community are high,” he said. “We need to use traditional and nontraditional efforts to reduce the spread of disease.”