AIDS group backs testing and increased regulation of Los Angeles area bathhouses

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.

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