New York: HIV Outreach at Sex Parties
January 26, 2006
Roughly 70 private sex parties or sex clubs operate in New York City. Last year, the AIDS group Positive Health Project said it made initial efforts to work with some of these gatherings. The agency now supplies condoms and HIV prevention information to eight private parties, according to Michael P. Saunders, HIV testing and care services coordinator, and a PHP staffer attends those parties regularly. PHP does not offer HIV testing at the events, but some men inquire about it and come to the agency for testing.
Since November, Sam Orlando, health coordinator at the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center, has brought HIV testing and prevention and drug counseling to a Monday night party that caters to men in their 20s and 30s. This is LESHRC's first sustained effort of its kind, and its initiation required a long negotiation with the promoter. Orlando is now negotiating to bring the service to a second party. Like PHP, LESHRC offers needle exchange services, but not at sex parties.
In his outreach at sex parties, Orlando said he had been struck by the "inconsistency of condom use" and the fact that many younger men "are still foggy about HIV transmission." His work includes discussions about "overdose prevention and responsible drug use." Orlando estimated that half the men at the gatherings are using drugs.
Gay Men's Health Crisis reports that it does outreach at some gay bars and at two of the city's three bathhouses but not at sex clubs or parties. "The promoters aren't as receptive to having us there," said Noel Alicea, a GMHC spokesperson.
Gay Men of African Descent conducted outreach at private parties from 1998 through 2001, said Donald Powell, who led the effort. GMAD hopes to revive the program, Powell said, though he acknowledged it is difficult to gain the trust of promoters and keep track of the parties, as individual gatherings are transient and go into and out of favor with the men who attend.
Gay City News (New York City)
01.19.2006; Duncan Osborne
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.