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Los Angeles health officials recommend licenses for bathhouses

Los Angeles health officials recommend licenses for bathhouses

Responding to studies showing patrons of the 11 gay bathhouses and sex clubs in Los Angeles County are significantly more likely to be HIV-positive than other gay men in the city and that unprotected sex is common in the venues, Los Angeles public health director Jonathan Fielding is recommending that licenses be required for all such businesses in the county, the Los Angeles Times reports. In a report released Friday, Fielding and other health officials recommend that the county board of supervisors adopt new rules that allow the health department to close bathhouses and sex clubs if they allow patrons to have unprotected sex or fail to obtain the required licenses. The proposed regulations also would allow unannounced health inspections during peak evening and weekend hours, require condoms to be readily available, require patrons to sign a consent form acknowledging the ban on unsafe sex, require the clubs to bar for six months all patrons who are caught having unprotected sex or using drugs, require that the clubs be well-lighted so inspectors can easily conduct their inspections, and mandate that HIV antibody testing be made available during peak business hours. The new rules must be approved by both the county board of supervisors and the Los Angeles City Council. Steve Afriat, who represents the owners of nine county bathhouses, has already begun lobbying against the proposed rules, and some city officials say the plan may face opposition from supervisors and city council members who are "squeamish" about regulating the sex clubs. But Fielding maintains that the changes are needed. "Diseases are being transmitted in these establishments, and we're interested in reducing that," he told the Times. The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation also welcomed the proposed regulations.

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