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Los Angeles
officials ban unprotected sex at bathhouses

Los Angeles
officials ban unprotected sex at bathhouses

New regulations ban unprotected sex and require sex clubs to meet strict health guidelines.

New regulations passed Tuesday by the Los Angeles County board of supervisors bans unprotected sex in all county commercial sex venues (such as bathhouses and sex clubs) and requires them to pay $1,088 in annual licensing fees and undergo quarterly health inspections, the Los Angeles Times reports. All sex clubs and bathhouses will be required to display signs and posters stating that unprotected sex is prohibited by patrons, and they must provide free condoms, lubricant, and information on HIV prevention and safer sex. Owners of sex venues also are now required to prohibit entry to anyone appearing to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The measure, passed 3-0 by county supervisors, also requires commercial sex venues to offer HIV antibody testing and counseling. County health officials are expected to begin issuing permits in mid February. Sex clubs and bathhouses must begin offering at least 20 hours of HIV testing and counseling availability per week beginning March 1, according to the new rules. Venues that don't comply with all new regulations can be shut down.

The new regulations were passed by supervisors following studies showing that patrons of commercial sex venues were significantly more likely to be HIV-positive than the general population and were more likely to engage in unprotected sex, often with multiple partners during a single visit to a sex club or bathhouse.

Scott Campbell, president of a firm that runs three bathhouses in Los Angeles, told the Times he believes the new regulations unfairly target sex clubs as primary facilitators of unprotected sex and of placing gay men at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. He notes that many gay men meet and engage in unprotected sex with partners they meet through Internet sites or at area bars and nightclubs. He also said his three commercial sex venues already spent $200,000 annually on safer-sex materials and HIV prevention information before the new regulations were approved.

The Times did not mention what county supervisors and health officials consider to be unprotected sex--whether the definition applies specifically to anal sex or includes oral sex. (

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