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AHF Lauds LA Supervisors' Unanimous Vote in Favor of Motion to Regulate Sex Clubs




 

-- AIDS Healthcare Foundation Praises BOS' Undivided Support of Motion to Increase Regulations at LA County Bathhouses & Sex Clubs. Motion Will Improve Testing & Prevention Services at Venues

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the nation's largest AIDS group which operates clinics in the US, Africa and Central America, applaud the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for voting unanimously in support of a proposed motion by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky that calls for increased regulation of Los Angeles area bathhouses and sex clubs and also calls for improved access for HIV and STD testing and prevention service providers at these venues. The motion specifies that the Director of Health Services and County counsel work to create and enhance regulations for improved access to HIV & STD testing and prevention services.

"We thank the Board for supporting Supervisor Yaroslavsky's motion to step up regulation of sex clubs and bathhouses here in Los Angeles County," said Michael Weinstein, AHF's President. "While we would like to see concrete action and a report back within 30 days rather than the approved 90 days, we are glad that the county has taken these crucial first steps toward safeguarding public health and well being by regulating these establishments."

"This is about public health. Serious infectious diseases continue to be transmitted at these venues while we sit here today, while we wait for this report to be compiled," said Karen Mall, AHF's Director of Prevention and Testing, who spoke in support of the motion at the meeting. "I urge this body to act quickly to develop a sound public health ordinance in order to ensure clients have consistent, accessible prevention and HIV and STD screening services in these venues."

A recent Los Angeles County study found that 11% of men tested at two Los Angeles area bathhouses in 2002 tested HIV positive, (compared with 5% of similar men who had tested in a public clinic or community based testing center). In addition, fewer than half the bathhouse customers who tested positive returned for their test results. AIDS advocates want County health officials to require that all L.A. County CSVs & clubs be open to HIV and STD screening and prevention services.

Following is the text of Supervisor Yaroslavsky's motion:

Motion by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky - February 3, 2004

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) conducted a federally funded study on HIV prevalence and risk behaviors among patrons of two bathhouses in Los Angeles County. As part of the Los Angeles Bathhouse Study, DHS staff surveyed bathhouse patrons on HIV risk behavior and conducted HIV/AIDS and STD testing of patrons. Results of the study show high-risk sexual behavior among bathhouse patrons who are primarily men who have sex with men (MSM), putting them at greater risk for infection of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The study found HIV prevalence of 11% among the bathhouse patrons, which is higher than the HIV prevalence found in other HIV/AIDS testing sites. High-risk sexual behavior is also occurring at other venues that cater to MSM, such as sexual encounter clubs, which exist in various jurisdictions in the County. This suggests that there may be HIV/AIDS and other STD transmissions not only among patrons of bathhouses, but also among patrons of these other venues.

For the past two years, the Department of Health Services' Office of AIDS Programs and Policy has contracted with community service providers to conduct HIV testing and counseling in bathhouses and other establishments and to appoint a liaison to collaborate with the owners and operators of these establishments on HIV and STD risk reduction efforts. Despite these efforts, the study's finding of 11% HIV prevalence in bathhouse patrons suggests that our HIV/AIDS and STD prevention and treatment efforts must be strengthened to address the environment in which high risk sexual behavior occurs.

I, THEREFORE, MOVE that the Department of Health Services and County Counsel examine and report to the Board within 90 days on the operation of bathhouses and other venues in Los Angeles County at which high risk behavior occurs among MSM, including a review of the HIV/AIDS and STD prevention efforts within these establishments. The report should include recommendations on: appropriate changes between cities and the County in licensing and permitting the operation of such venues; financing, accessing, facilitating and permitting DHS' HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts within these venues; and coordination of other healthcare services, such as STD testing and alcohol and drug treatment programs, with HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts.

SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation



 


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Information in this article was accurate in February 3, 2004. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.