KQED Examines L.A. County Health Officials’ Efforts To Reduce High-Risk Sexual Behavior at Bathhouses, Sex Clubs
KQED's "California Report" on Thursday examined Los Angeles County Department of Health Services officials' consideration of methods to reduce high-risk sexual behavior at gay bathhouses and sex clubs (Cohen, "The California Report," KQED, 6/3). A motion approved in February by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors had required the county Department of Health Services and other workers by May 15 to recommend improvements for prevention programs and guidelines for how the county and cities can coordinate licensing and permit distribution for the clubs. The motion cited a 2002 study that found 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/5). Health department officials are scheduled this week to present to the county Board of Supervisors recommendations on how to address the issue, KQED reports ("California Report," KQED, 6/3).
The county already has the power to inspect and shut down bathhouses. Health department officials are considering plans to impose rules on all types of sex clubs, including requiring them to offer condoms and information on condom usage, as well as on-site testing for sexually transmitted diseases. The officials also are considering requiring the clubs to obtain a license from the health department and comply with certain regulations or risk being closed (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/5). However, Lee Klosinski, director of programs for AIDS Project Los Angeles, said that if officials "crack down too hard" on the venues, attendance could decline and high-risk sexual behavior in parks, restrooms and other uncontrolled environments could increase. Klosinski added that a "wiser move" in fighting HIV/AIDS is to focus on prohibiting the use of drugs -- including crystal methamphetamine -- that often leads to unprotected sex in commercial sex venues, according to KQED. The segment also includes comments from Scott Campbell, owner of a Los Angeles bathhouse; Dr. William Woods, assistant adjunct professor at the University of California-San Francisco's Department of Medicine and Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and editor of the book, "Gay Bathhouses and Public Health Policy"; and a volunteer sex educator for bathhouse patrons ("California Report," KQED, 6/3). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.