L.A. Health Department Obtains Legal Names of Adult Film Performers Who Worked With HIV-Positive Actors
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services on Wednesday obtained a list of the legal names of 53 adult film actors who had sexual contact with two actors who recently tested HIV-positive or with the sexual partners of those actors, the New York Times reports. The names were obtained as part of an investigation launched Tuesday by county Public Health Director Jonathan Fielding into the spread of HIV in the pornography industry (Madigan, New York Times, 4/22). 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. About 1,200 adult film actors once a month undergo testing for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, and many production companies require performers to show their test results before filming (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/20).
The Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, which conducts much of the monthly testing, posted on its Web site the stage names of individuals who potentially had been exposed to James, Roxx or one of the actors' sex partners. However, the health department requested the actors' legal names, which it said would be more useful in its efforts to contact the actors and anyone outside of the industry that they may have had sex with. "We're not happy about this," AIM Executive Director Sharon Mitchell said, adding, "The legal names of our talent have always been held in the strictest of confidentiality and privacy." She said that the foundation handed over the names "only at the insistence" of health department investigators, according to the Times. Fielding said that the "most important task" for investigators was locating people outside the adult movie industry who might have contracted HIV from people inside the industry, according to the Times (New York Times, 4/22).
The county health department this week filed a complaint with the state Division of Occupational Health and Safety's Cal/OSHA program requesting a formal investigation, the Los Angeles Times reports. Cal/OSHA has six months to complete the investigation, which will be confidential, Cal/OSHA spokesperson Susan Gard said (Liu/Richardson, Los Angeles Times, 4/22). Production companies could be fined up to $25,000 per incident if the agency finds the companies exposed employees to serious health risks, according to the AP/Contra Costa Times (Gentile, AP/Contra Costa Times, 4/22). The county ultimately is seeking enforcement of workplace regulations that would require porn actors to wear condoms, according to the Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles Times, 4/22). 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. 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 regularly use condoms, according to industry executives. 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 could be used to enforce the condom policy (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/20). Porn industry representatives, the Free Speech Coalition and AIM this week met with county health officials to discuss the possible condom policy, Agence France-Presse reports (Agence France-Presse, 4/22).
Gay Porn Industry
AIDS advocates and some producers of films aimed at men who have sex with men said that the porn industry could learn from their policy of mandatory condom use in their films, according to the Los Angeles Times. Gay porn companies in the late 1980s voluntarily adopted an industry-wide condom use mandate. Although a small number of companies have begun filming "bareback" films that feature men having sex with men without condoms, condom use is still "the norm" in gay porn films, according to the Los Angeles Times. Titan Media, one of the largest gay porn film production companies, recently announced that it would not hire actors who have had sex without condoms in other film appearances. Titan Vice President Keith Webb said that the company been financially successful despite its mandatory condom policy, adding, "We've shown that profit and protection can go hand in hand." Several gay porn film producers on Tuesday met with county health officials to discuss condom policies, the Los Angeles Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 4/22).
Several California radio stations recently have reported on state and county health officials' move to require condom use in the adult film industry:
- KCET's "Life & Times": The segment examines the work of Mitchell at AIM ("Life & Times," KCET, 4/21). The complete transcript and audio of the segment in RealPlayer will be available online a few days after the broadcast.
- KPCC's "AirTalk": The segment includes comments from Mitchell and adult film producer Jill Kelly (Mantle, "AirTalk," KPCC, 4/19). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KPCC's "AirTalk": The segment includes comments from Fielding and Tim Connelly, publisher of Adult Video News (Mantle, "AirTalk," KPCC, 4/21). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KPCC's "Talk of the City": The segment includes comments from Gard (Felde, "Talk of the City," KPCC, 4/20). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.