Zika warning billboards removed in Florida
Billboards aimed at spreading awareness about the threat of the Zika virus in Florida have been removed following complaints about the images used. The two billboards in Broward County showed the inage of an unrolled condom, stating that protection helps to avoid spread of the virus.
However, concerns about the impact that the images could have on tourism in the area meant that the signage company pulled the ads that were located along Interstate 95 and Interstate 595.
According to Michael Kahane, a spokesperson for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, pressure was put on the company by the Tourism Board and the Fort Lauderdale Mayor's Office due to concerns that the billboards could affect tourism.
Mr Kahane told WSVN 7News Miami: "It's outrageous. This is a public health issue. People need to have as much information as they can possibly have about it."
However, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau said that the reason the billboards were removed was because they were inaccurate. They implied that condoms prevent the spread of the virus when, in actual fact, they only serve to reduce the risk of transmission.
Tourism officials also stated that they did not have the ability to order the billboards to be removed, as that was a call only the signage company could make. They did, however, relay their concerns to the company over the inaccurate message.
Zika has been a problem in countries like Brazil but has not previously been reported in the US. This has changed recently, with 33 non-travel related cases being reported in Florida in recent weeks. Most of these are located in the Wynwood neighbourhood of Miami, but two out of three recent cases are outside of this area.
Although condoms are not 100 per cent effective at preventing the spread of the Zika virus, they do help to limit the risk. They also help to avoid the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancy.