L.A. County Supervisors Approve Regulations for Commercial Sex Venues, Including Mandatory HIV Counseling, Testing
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 3-0 to approve regulations requiring commercial sex venues, such as gay bathhouses and sex clubs, to pay an annual fee and follow "stringent" health rules, including providing on-site HIV counseling and testing, the Los Angeles Times reports (Lin, Los Angeles Times, 1/11). Commercial sex venues are defined in the regulations as "any establishment that charges patrons or members a fee for admission or membership and which as one of its primary purposes allows, facilitates and/or provides facilities for its patrons or members to engage in any high-risk sexual contact while on the premises." The Board of Supervisors in September 2004 approved an ordinance requiring commercial sex venues to obtain health permits from the county and adhere to health regulations in order to operate (AP/KESQ, 1/10). According to the Times, the regulations require such venues to obtain a health permit from the county and pay an annual fee of $1,088, as well as submit to quarterly inspections (Los Angeles Times, 1/11). By establishing a fee under the new regulations, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services will now conduct inspections and issue permits to the venues (AP/KESQ, 1/10). John Schunhoff, county chief of operations for public health, said venues that refuse to comply with the regulations could be shut down similarly to restaurants or tattoo parlors that do not comply with county health statutes. The regulations also require venue owners to post signs prohibiting unprotected sex and to deny entry to customers under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. County health officials are expected to begin issuing permits in mid-February, and the venues are required to establish HIV testing and counseling for 20 hours per week by March 1 (Los Angeles Times, 1/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.