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January 16, 2008

Bye-Bye, Bathhouses?

Though the New York City health department has said that it has not determined how or if it will regulate the city’s sex clubs and bathhouses, a senior official at the agency said the goal is to shut them down, reports Gay City News (gaycitynews.com, 1/10).

“They are very much looking at this from a medical model, and the medical model says shut them down,” said Joshua Volle, former director of community HIV prevention planning and programs, at a January 7 meeting at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community Center. Gay City News reports that Volle’s last day in the position was January 11.

In a memo sent to Gay City News in November 2007, Dr. Thomas Farley, advisor to the city health commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, said that New York City is experiencing an increase in HIV and syphilis infections in men who have sex with men, and that the city should reevaluate its policies on bathhouses and sex clubs in order to curb the epidemic.

Gay City News reports that Volle said he had not heard directly from Farley or Frieden about plans to shut down bathhouses, but that he said he’d talked to other colleagues who’d met with them.

According to Sara Markt, a deputy press secretary in the health department, the city doesn’t “have any plans to change the policy at this point,” and that the “current position is that [the health department needs] more information.”


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