L.A. County Supervisors Order Health Officials To Strengthen HIV, STD Prevention Programs in Bathhouses, Sex Clubs
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to support a motion requiring county public health officials to strengthen sexually transmitted disease prevention efforts among men who have sex with men at bathhouses and sex clubs, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports. The motion, sponsored by County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, requires the county Department of Health Services and other workers within 90 days to recommend improvements for prevention programs and guidelines for how the county and cities can coordinate licensing and permitting for the clubs (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 2/3). The motion cited a study conducted in 2002, which found that 11% of men at two Los Angeles area bathhouses tested HIV-positive, compared with 5% of men who had been tested at a public clinic or community-based testing center (AIDS Healthcare Foundation release, 2/3). The high rate of HIV among MSM in bathhouses "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," the motion said (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 2/3). "Serious infectious diseases continue to be transmitted at these venues while we sit here today, while we wait for this report to be compiled," Karen Mall, director of prevention and testing for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said, adding, "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" (AHF release, 2/3).
Black AIDS Awareness Week
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday also joined several U.S. cities in proclaiming this week National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Week, Xinhua News Agency reports. In a motion sponsored by Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, the board supported the week as a means of promoting HIV/AIDS awareness in the black community. HIV/AIDS is the number one cause of death among black men and women ages 25 to 44 in the United States, and 23.5% of recently diagnosed HIV cases in Los Angeles were among blacks. To commemorate the week, state offices, businesses, churches and AIDS organizations are working together to raise awareness about the disease, Xinhua News Agency reports. "It is time for young people to get involved and do something," Richard Hamilton, director of the event, said, adding, "You can make a difference." Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York and Oakland, Calif., this week also are recognizing National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Week (Xinhua News Agency, 2/3). National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is Feb. 7 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/3).