California Adult Film Studios Fail To Maintain Safety Standards Aimed at Preventing HIV Transmission, Health Officials Say
Some adult film studios in California have failed to maintain safety standards, including requiring condom use, aimed at preventing the spread of HIV among models and performers, Los Angeles health officials said recently, the Los Angeles Daily News reports (Barrett, Los Angeles Daily News, 6/3).
The Division of Occupational Safety and Health's Cal/OSHA program at the California Department of Industrial Relations in September 2004 fined two Los Angeles-area adult film companies -- Evasive Angles and TTB Productions -- $30,560 each for allegedly allowing actors to perform unprotected sex. The citations came six months after an HIV outbreak in the adult film industry. Five adult film actors tested HIV-positive in April and May 2004, and four of the cases were found to be linked. Following the detection of the first two cases, more than 50 performers who were thought to have had unprotected sex with one of the HIV-positive actors or one of their onscreen partners agreed to a voluntary work quarantine. About 12 companies then agreed to a production moratorium until HIV testing of the actors was completed, according to industry experts. Following the outbreak, several state legislators suggested implementing measures that would require adult film companies to take certain steps to avoid HIV transmission among actors. Both Evasive Angles and TTB Productions appealed the fines (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/12/04).
According to the Daily News, the 2004 outbreak prompted some studios to require performers to use condoms during filming. Health officials said they are worried about the potential for another HIV outbreak because most studios have dropped such policies. Industry officials said almost all studios have reverted to condom-optional policies and now rely on periodic health screenings.
According to Peter Kerndt, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's sexually transmitted disease program, periodic health screenings are inadequate. Paula Tavrow, adjunct assistant professor in the community health sciences department at the University of California-Los Angeles, said the "reality is, an HIV epidemic could happen tomorrow" and the city has "no safeguards in place to prevent that."
A coalition of public, not-for-profit and academic health leaders have lobbied state lawmakers to create stricter regulations for the industry. "Everyone knows from a health (perspective) this is a slam dunk, but there is just so much sensitivity," Tavrow said. She added, "Few legislative offices see a large grass-roots constituency for it." AIDS Health Care Foundation President Michael Weinstein said the organization has spoken with several lawmakers but none have agreed to sponsor legislation.
John Schunhoff, chief deputy director at the health department, said that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and other county health officials have supported efforts to make the adult film industry safer but so far have not sponsored a bill. "We have to pick our battles," Schunhoff said, adding, "If there is an opportunity of our becoming more active and to really make a difference, we'll do so" (Los Angeles Daily News, 6/3).