LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--During the 1980s AIDS crisis, many American all-male bathhouses, especially those in San Francisco, shut down or were forcibly closed in an effort to control the epidemic by eliminating what has long been viewed as an opportunity for illicit and often high-risk sex and drug use.
In Los Angeles, however, bathhouses remained open but with new regulations: in order to operate legally, the venues had to provide testing for HIV and patrons were supposed to use condoms during all sexual encounters. However, a 2003 study by the Los Angeles County Health Department still found that more than 10% of men surveyed had engaged in unprotected sex in the bathhouses.
In a groundbreaking new partnership, national bathhouse chain FLEX Spas has teamed up with AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest AIDS organization in the United States, to help bolster its safety standards and protect the public health of its patrons. The Foundation has already begun providing free condoms to the spa locations in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Cleveland, and beginning October 18 will also provide additional HIV testing to support the mandated testing access the spas already provide.
AHF will also offer testing for sexually transmitted diseases, as well as promotional items and safer sex education materials, in the coming months. Additionally, the nonprofit will partner with FLEX Spas to provide condoms at the upcoming Atlanta Pride celebration on October 12 and 13.
“FLEX Spas is excited to partner with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation on this groundbreaking effort,” stated Todd J. Saporito, President/CEO of FLEX Spas. “We believe that FLEX Spas has a unique opportunity to reach consumers, influencing health awareness and linkage to care. AHF’s strategy on delivering health services and care perfectly aligns with the overall business model of FLEX Spas.”
“We’re thrilled to provide additional testing opportunities in addition to the legally required testing FLEX Spas already offers, especially at night when other testing centers may be closed,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, the Senior Director of Public Health for AHF. “Because the INSTI rapid test gives results in just 60 seconds, we’ll be able to test a large number of men very quickly, and help ensure that everyone who uses their bathhouse is aware of their status so they can best care for themselves and their partners.”
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider in the USA. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to over 230,000 individuals in 31 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia. For more information, visit www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @AIDSHealthcare.