Nationwide Chain of Gay Bathhouses Adopts Health Guidelines

The owner of one of the nation's largest chains of bathhouses catering to gay men has agreed to a set of health guidelines at six of his clubs, including one in Cleveland.

Ray Wolf, owner of Club Cleveland, said his bathhouses already offer services covering many of the recommendations made by the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, a private agency pushing for national standards at bathhouses.

The task force asked Wolf and Charles Fleck, the owner of the Flex Club, a second bathhouse set to open in Cleveland next month, to provide free HIV testing and condoms to patrons, and to train staff members in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

The task force also asked the clubs to post policies against illegal drugs and prostitution.

Club Cleveland already offers HIV testing and condoms, and Wolf said he liked the task force's recommendations about displaying its health commitment and establishing a private office for STD testing.

The opening of the Flex Club led city leaders to re-examine health guidelines at bathhouses. While optimistic the Flex Club will bring economic growth, health officials worried it could spark a growth in HIV/AIDS.

The city health department previously released a list of recommendations that both Wolf and Fleck indicated they would cooperate with.