Los Angeles County Health Officials Urge Increased HIV Testing, Counseling of Male Bathhouse Patrons
Los Angeles County health officials are urging increased HIV testing and counseling in gay bathhouses after a study released this week at the 2003 National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta showed that men tested for the virus in bathhouses were twice as likely as men tested in public health clinics or community-based agencies to be HIV-positive, the Los Angeles Times reports. Officials suggested that HIV prevention, education and testing may discourage risky behavior in bathhouses. The study, conducted by researchers from the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, found that of the 916 men tested at two Los Angeles bathhouses between May 2001 and December 2002, 11% tested HIV-positive, compared with 5.5% of men who were tested at public clinics and community-based agencies (Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times, 8/1). In addition, the study found that only 40% of the men who tested positive for HIV at bathhouses returned to learn their results, while 60% of the men testing positive failed to return to learn their HIV status (Reuters, 7/29). Lee Klosinski, director of programs for AIDS Project Los Angeles, said that the 40% follow-up finding is "a sobering figure, given the potential positive impact that knowing their HIV status can have for an individual. As helpful as it is to know, if you're HIV-positive it's still a scary thing to actually find out" (Los Angeles Times, 8/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.