Thursday, March 27, 2003


A new study was released today showing no real difference in the likelihood of gay men to engage in unprotected anal sex, due to the regulating of bathhouses.

As we all know, San Francisco was the only city in America to shut gay bathhouses in a misguided effort to curb HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s.

Since the summer of 2000 the city has been experiencing sub-Saharan transmissions of new HIV infections, syphilis cases have doubled, rectal gonorrhea has surged and we have a new drug resistant staph infection afflicting some gay men. This does not sound to me like the prohibition on gay bathhouses is doing anything to lower or stabilize HIV or STD rates.

I think the right of gay men to engage in consensual sex in private rooms in public bathhouse is something worth fighting for.

Keep in mind that Berkeley and San Jose have two fine gay bathhouse, probably frequented by hundreds, maybe thousands of gay San Franciscans every year. Yet neither Alameda nor Santa Clara county are experiencing the increases of HIV and STDs that we are here.

While gays don't have any bathhouses in San Francisco, straight people have at least two bathhouses to meet their sexual needs. Look in the yellow pages under the "Bathhouse" listings and you will find two listings. One for the hot tubs on Fell Street, near Market, and the other for a facility on Van Ness Avenue.

With the U.S. Supreme Court considering a case from Texas that could overturn sodomy laws and the court's Bowers v. Hardwick decision, now is the ideal time to force the DPH to allow bathhouses for gay men to reopen.

I simply want what straight people have, the right to have sex in private spaces in public bathhouses. Is that such a terrible idea, in this city, of all cities? I don't think so.

Here's an excerpt from an AIDS site about the new study.

26 March 2003
Michael Carter

Regulating saunas makes no difference to overall amount of unprotected
anal sex had by gay men

Regulating the opportunities for gay men to have sex in "bath houses"
(usually known as saunas in the UK and Europe) may reduce the likelihood
that gay men will have unprotected anal sex in the venue, but makes no
overall difference to the probability that a gay man will have unprotected
anal sex, according to research conducted in four US cities and published
in the 1st April 2003 edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency


It will be most interesting to see if this study generates any mainstream news coverage, especially in either the SF Ex or Chronicle.

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