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Berkeley May Put Safe-Sex Kits Beside Hotel Bibles

January 26, 1989

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) _ City officials hoping to stem the spread of AIDS are considering a proposal that would require innkeepers to put safe-sex kits beside the good book in each hotel room.

″Certainly if hotels can have a Gideon Bible in every room, they can include a safe sex kit,″ said nurse practitioner Leland Traiman, a clinical AIDS researcher who proposed the idea.

″There could be a sign with each kit saying, ’The Bible may save your soul, but this will save your life,‴ said Traiman, who served on the city’s AIDS health commission last year.

The proposal was on Wednesday’s agenda for the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety and Health and is also scheduled for a hearing before the city’s Community Health Advisory Committee next month.

City Councilwoman Ann Chandler, who chairs the council committee, said she is not sure safe-sex kits should be required by law. But she added, ″Given the crisis caused by AIDS, we must do all we can to educate the community. It’s an issue that needs to be discussed.″

Each kit would contain condoms and information about how AIDS is transmitted.

David Morris, chairman of the Community Health Advisory Committee, said he knows very little about the proposal but that it ″didn’t seem like a half-bad idea.″

Not surprisingly, some hoteliers disagree.

″My boss is hitting the ceiling 3/8″ said Doris Flood, manager of Traveler’s Lodge, a few blocks from the University of California.

″He’s called the home office, and the home office has called England, and I’m not even going to tell you what England said,″ said Flood, whose hotel is owned by the British-based Trustforte Inc.

″We are three blocks from the university. A lot of our clientele is associated with the university. They are mostly older people or professors or people from Europe; it’s not conducive to our clientele here,″ Flood said.

She also worried that a faulty condom could leave the hotel vulnerable to a lawsuit.

Steve Rodri, general manager of the Berkeley Marina Marriott Hotel, said his Mormon-run franchise places the Book of Mormon in each room and doesn’t even allow Playboy Magazine in the gift shop. He said the hotel is not about to place condoms in the rooms.

″The Marriott organization has always stood for high morals and professional ethics,″ Rodri said. ″I think it could be difficult to ask a housekeeper of deep religious convictions to handle these types of items.″

Traiman said the idea was born last year when the city’s Health Commission tried to persuade hot tub and sauna owners to post AIDS warnings and to provide safe sex information. The managers of one sauna refused.

″They told us they wouldn’t cooperate until there are safe sex kits in all hotel and motel rooms in Berkeley,″ he said. ‴Voila 3/8,′ we said. We all thought it was such a good idea that we decided to pursue it.″

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