Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 77–86 | Cite as

Gay Bathhouse HIV Prevention: the Use of Staff Monitoring of Patron Sexual Behavior

  • William J. WoodsEmail author
  • Nicolas Sheon
  • Joseph A. Morris
  • Diane Binson


Many HIV prevention interventions have been launched in gay bathhouses and sex clubs since the onset of the AIDS epidemic, such as condom distribution and HIV testing. Perhaps none of these are as intrusive to the venue's environment as what is called “monitoring,” which involves staff, during every shift, repeatedly walking throughout the public areas of a bathhouse to check on patrons’ sexual behavior. Yet, monitoring has received little evaluation. Between 2002 and 2004, we conducted qualitative interviews with venue managers, staff, and patrons in New York City, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. An analysis found that monitoring was influenced by the kinds of space available for sex, suggesting three approaches to monitoring: (1) monitoring all sex in clubs that only had public areas where men had sex, (2) monitoring some sex in clubs with private rooms for sex, and (3) no monitoring of sex, regardless of the kinds of space for sex.


HIV prevention Monitoring Bathhouses Sex clubs Gay men MSM 



This study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health: R01 MH61162. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIMH. The authors want to express our great appreciation to Kim Koester and Jeff McConnell of UCSF, whose manuscript reviews greatly improved this product; to our project director, Paul Cotten, without whom this project could not have been launched; and to all the club managers, staff, and patrons who agreed to collaborate with us on this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • William J. Woods
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nicolas Sheon
    • 1
  • Joseph A. Morris
    • 1
  • Diane Binson
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, Department of MedicineUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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