A new study recommends a new approach in dealing with the spread of HIV/AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) when it comes to circuit parties.
“Shutting down the parties would send them underground and possibly exaggerate risky behavior,” said the authors of the study titled “Reducing HIV Infections At Circuit Parties: From Description to Explanation and Principles of Intervention Design.”
The Circuit refers to an ongoing series of gay-themed parties thrown in pretty much every major metro area in the country at various times throughout the year. Some larger dance clubs cultivate a circuit-y atmosphere on a weekly basis but the quintessential circuit party is a block of annual, one-night only events held throughout a given city over a single weekend. An example of this is the White Party in Palm Beach with a began that began on Good Friday with a “welcome party” called “Splash” followed by an after-party entitled “Steam” at a separate venue.
For events like the Fireball in Chicago there’s a steaming committee whose job it is to book deejays and performers, design and distribute promotional materials, and arrange sponsorships and hosting agreements with airlines, local hotels, and media outlets.
The study Author Amin Ghaziani says party promoters should “propose creative strategies to reduce the rates of potential HIV infection” by relying on existing public health literature and studies about drug use and sexual behavior.
Ghaziani and co-author Thomas D. Cook concluded that the prevalence of unprotected sex at circuit parties is increasing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
They also discovered HIV-positive men are more likely to attend the parties as well as more likely to have unprotected sex.
“The parties are seen as gay celebratory events that elicit highly valued feelings of community by participants,” said Cook.
Ghaziani and Cook believe the risk could be reduced by recruiting socially influential friends who would deliver key messages to reduce HIV infections.
Those messages would include: unsafe sex falsely promises eroticism and authenticity; certain drugs elevate libidos and distort cognition; and condom use does not betray intimacy or the party ethos.
Jason Riggs, spokesman for the San Francisco-based Stop AIDS Project, said posting safe-sex messages is important.
Riggs added his organization has hired new coordinators to spread HIV prevention messages to clubs throughout the San Francisco area.
“The point is not to demonize this particular subpopulation of gay men,” Ghaziani says.
According to gaylife.about.com, many gay men have heard of circuit parties but not attended them.
There’s a handful of websites devoted to circuit news, party reviews, and calendars.
The granddaddy of all one-nighters when it comes to circuit parties is the Black Party which commands $100 a ticket and most main events cost between $45 and $70 a head.