Gay Bathhouses and Public Health Policy

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9781560232735: Gay Bathhouses and Public Health Policy

Explore the impact of AIDS on the gay bathhouse culture

Public health policy on bathhouses has been limited and poorly documented. This book—the first to be published on this timely and important topic—will help you become knowledgeable about gay bathhouses. Unlike most other places where men have sex in public, gay bathhouses are subject to government-imposed health regulations. Gay Bathhouses and Public Health Policy examines the bathhouse environment and how it differs from other public sex environments. It describes public policies that have been implemented, discussing policies for HIV prevention, testing, and intervention; issues related to civil liberties; and the legal aspects of these policies. This essential book also includes a fascinating chapter about other types of sex businesses—bookstores, theaters, and sex clubs—and how public policy affected them in the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Helpful tables and figures make the information in this well referenced book easy to access and understand.

From the editors: “From a public health perspective, the baths first came to attention as a result of an exponential increase in sexually transmitted infections among men in the 1970s. The spread of these infections among gay men stimulated the public health community to seek ways to combat them. Although there appears to have been some mention of closing bathhouses as an approach, the predominant message was to educate, test, and treat. Of course, AIDS was a different matter in a different time. By early 1984, the once rare call for closure had gained a powerful voice as well as support in powerful gay circles. The tension between the baths and public heath that resulted from the closure debates continues to exist in some cities, but there are also a number of examples of health professionals from local health departments and academic institutions who have established good relationships with owners and managers of bathhouses. Today, 40 of bathhouses in the United States offer HIV testing, which typically requires collaboration either with the local health department or with community-based organizations that run outreach HIV-testing programs.”

Gay Bathhouses and Public Health Policy will inform you about:

  • the unique relationship between bathhouse patrons and the environment within which they engage in sexual activities
  • the history of gay bathhouses in the United States, including their transformation from Turkish baths, Russian baths, public baths, health resorts, and spas into gay institutions
  • the San Francisco bathhouse battles of 1984 and their impact on civil liberties, AIDS awareness, and health policy
  • the legal aspects of regulating bathhouses—highlighting cases from 1984 to 1995 where the government sought to close a sex-facilitating business or where such a business sought to invalidate laws and ordinances banning sexual activity
  • an uncensored 1984 report from Coming Up! magazine on sexual activity at bathhouses
  • how the city of Seattle designed and implemented an HIV-counseling and testing program for bathhouses
  • and more!

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"Important and Long Overdue.... Filled with useful lessons for public health professionals engaging in bathhouse HIV/STD prevention work."

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