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At least 30 new cases of HIV infection are reported each month in Baja California, and the leader of a prominent AIDS organization says he knows what's behind the alarming statistic, particularly in Tijuana.

Steam baths, hookups via the internet, and so-called cuartos obscuros (“dark rooms”) permitted in some gay bars were cited by Lorenzo Herrera, president of the Fund for AIDS Assistance, in an August 14 interview published by El Sol de Tijuana.

"There are new cases, there are people infected, there are some who are of a young age and it's in some 'dark rooms' where they are infected," Herrera told the newspaper.

Cuartos osbcuros are special sections in bars or discotheques with little or no light in which those who enter participate in anonymous sex, Herrera explained.

He called AIDS activists “hypocrites" at the national level for not broaching the subject of why the HIV-infection rate is skyrocketing, noting that the disease continues to ravage the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

Herrera, who has been an activist for 30 years, says many still believe they could never contract AIDS and don't protect themselves, according to El Sol.

“There are many who think that the persons they're with are free of the virus, but there are many people who don't know they are infected and they re-infect others,” Herrera told the newspaper.

There are other factors that draw some to anonymous sex, he said. For example, “adrenaline,” because many people like that which is prohibited, such as having a sexual encounter with a person they don't know.

Herrera blamed family rejection and the failure of Baja California state government to approve same-sex marriage for causing people to seek out anonymous encounters.

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