Calif. State, County Health Officials To Force Mandatory Condom Use in Adult Film Industry After Actors Test HIV-Positive
California and Los Angeles County health officials say that they now have the "leverage" they need to enact laws requiring condom usage during sex scenes in pornographic films after two adult film stars tested HIV-positive last week, the Los Angeles Times reports (Richardson/Liu, Los Angeles Times, 4/20). After pornographic actor Darren James last week tested positive for HIV, at least 45 workers who may have had unprotected sex with James or his sex partners agreed to a voluntary work quarantine. Actress Lara Roxx, who worked with James on at least one movie, also tested positive. About 12 companies have agreed to a 60-day production moratorium until HIV testing is completed, industry experts said (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/16). Preliminary test results on Friday showed that another actress who worked with James also may be HIV-positive, producer Jill Kelly said. About 1,200 adult film actors once a month undergo testing for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, and many production companies require performers to present test results before filming, according to the New York Times (Madigan, New York Times, 4/17).
State and county health officials on Monday said they believe existing regulations give them the authority to require adult film actors to use condoms during filming, and officials from the state Division of Occupational Health and Safety's Cal/OSHA program plan to begin inspections of production companies this week, the Los Angeles Times reports. Only two of the approximately 200 adult film production companies in Southern California require their performers to use condoms, and about 17% of adult film actors use condoms regularly, according to industry executives. Cal/OSHA plans to enforce in the porn industry its regulations that require employers to have written policies on reducing workplace hazards and require the use of universal precautions for workers who may come into contact with bloodborne pathogens, the Los Angeles Times reports. In addition to the condom usage policy, enforcement of these regulations would make testing, vaccinations and medical care costs associated with the workplace the responsibility of the employer, Peter Kerndt, director of the sexually transmitted disease program for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, said, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, some industry executives question Cal/OSHA's legal authority in the matter and say that some companies will move out of the state if the regulations are enforced, according to the Los Angeles Times. Cal/OSHA spokesperson Susan Gard said that the agency will have to "overcome arguments" by people in the porn industry that adult film performers are independent contractors -- not employees -- and therefore are not subject to Cal/OSHA regulations (Los Angeles Times, 4/20).
Meeting of Porn Film Producers
Between 100 and 200 pornography film producers this week are scheduled to meet to discuss the ramifications of the voluntary halt in production started last week after the actors tested positive, Tim Connelly, publisher of Adult Video News, said, the New York Times reports (New York Times, 4/17). Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation Executive Director Sharon Mitchell estimated that about 5% of production companies may continue filming during the moratorium (Carney, Boston Globe, 4/18). Vivid Entertainment and Wicked Pictures, two large pornographic film companies, have said that they may resume production before the end of the 60-day moratorium but are waiting for more information. Both companies have mandatory condom-use policies, according to the Washington Post (Maynard, Washington Post, 4/17). Adult film star Jenna Jameson blamed the HIV cases on the recent increase in the number of porn movies being made in Eastern Europe and South America, where HIV testing is not mandatory (Johnson, New York Post, 4/19). James is thought to have contracted HIV while working in Brazil. Jameson, who also produces films, said that foreign actors and actresses who work abroad should undergo a two-month quarantine before beginning work in the United States (Boston Globe, 4/18). In addition, Jameson and husband Jay Grdina, who directs and acts in pornographic films, have announced that they are creating the Adult Industry Assistance Fund to help performers affected by the production moratorium. "These are people working paycheck to paycheck who cannot work in the industry for 60 days," Jameson said, adding, "I'm asking people who have the means to donate something so they can get back on their feet" (New York Post, 4/19).
San Francisco Chronicle Editorial
It is "amazing that an industry turning out thousands of X-rated films for an insatiable market" does not have more cases of HIV, a San Francisco Chronicle editorial says. The current system of voluntary HIV testing is "not perfect but is promoted as the best available" by Jonathan Fielding, director of Los Angeles County Department of Health Services' Public Health Department, according to the Chronicle. Although it may be "unrealistic" to ask adult filmmakers to "portray safe sex," individuals who purchase pornography "should be aware of the real-life risks that accompany such 'entertainment,'" the editorial concludes (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/20).
NPR's "Weekend Edition Saturday" reported on the adult film industry's work stopage agreement. The segment includes comments from Mitchell, Vivid Co-CEO Steven Hirsch and Kat Sunlove, a lobbyist for the adult video industry (Safo, "Weekend Edition Saturday," NPR, 4/17). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
MPR's "Marketplace" on Friday also reported on the industry's decision. The segment includes comments from Jill Kelly Productions CEO Bob Friedland and Jason Seacrest, who produces a Web site about the porn industry (Napoli, "Marketplace," MPR, 4/16). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.