Los Angeles County, Calif., Should License Gay Bathhouses, Sex Clubs, Los Angeles Times Editorial Says
The fact that a debate over whether Los Angeles County, Calif., should require licensing of gay bathhouses and sex clubs "still goes on in the third decade of the HIV epidemic is unbelievable," a Los Angeles Times editorial says (Los Angeles Times, 7/5). Following the release of a federally funded study showing a higher HIV prevalence among men at gay bathhouses compared with other locations in the county, Department of Health Services officials have been considering plans to impose rules on all types of sex clubs, including requiring them to offer condoms, on-site testing for sexually transmitted diseases and information on condom usage. Last month, Los Angeles Public Health Chief Jonathan Fielding recommended requiring licenses for gay bathhouses operating in the county (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/28). Lobbyists for the bathhouses and sex clubs call the licensing proposal "extremely discriminatory" and a violation of the civil rights of gay men, the Times says. However, such regulation "is not an assault on civil rights" but "a weapon against a public health crisis," the editorial says. Although licensing is only a "halfway measure and tough to enforce," the five county supervisors "have not uttered a peep of support for even that, holding sex clubs to a lower health standard than nail salons, which are licensed," the Times says. The editorial concludes that "[a]t the very least, county supervisors should hold gay bathhouses to the same standards as gay porn films," which already mandate use of condoms in most productions (Los Angeles Times, 7/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.