In the name of public health Nanny Bloomberg in New York City won't let his subjects gulp down a 16-ounce soda or light up a cigarette at a bar but as the HIV epidemic continues unabated it's apparently still okay to cruise for anonymous sex among the maze-like corriders of the East and West Side Clubs where gay men can rent claustrophobic cubicles for their presumed hookups.
A new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concludes that "one in five gay men in the United States has HIV, and almost half of those who carry the virus are unaware that they are infected" as reported by Darryl Fears for The Washington Post.
And yet so-called gay bathhouses in New York City apparently remain open.
Dr. Demetre C. Daskalakis, a professor at New York University’s School of Medicine, "has been conducting HIV research in two Manhattan bathhouses—the East Side Club and the West Side Club—since 2006" as reported by a Jan 22. 2008 article ("Researchers Support NYC Bathhouse Regulation") for POZ Magazine: "so far, he has tested about 1,000 MSMs [men who have sex with men] for HIV and other STDs and has referred those in need of health care to Bellevue Hospital, which is funding his studies." A July 2, 2009 article ("HIV Testing in NYC Bathhouses") by Kristina Fiore for MedPage Today states:
As the number of HIV cases in the U.S. soars -- especially among gay and black men, and particularly in New York City -- one physician is going where few have gone before in terms of prevention efforts: straight to the late-night gay scene. Dr. Demetre Daskalakis runs the first-ever HIV testing venue at a New York bathhouse in Chelsea. * * * Daskalakis can find no better place to do his work. Today, some men come to the club just for the free test, not the sex. That, Daskalakis says, makes keeping the clinic door open into the wee hours of a Manhattan weekend morning worth it.
The preliminary results from Dr. Daskalakis's research made at a November 2007 presentation are not encouraging: "HIV positive MSM attending bathhouses represent an important group to target for HIV education and prevention since many continue to engage in high-risk sexual activities."
Apparently Mayor Bloomberg doesn't care if his gay constituents get HIV as long as they aren't fat or smell like an ashtray.
Further reading that may be of interest: