Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong. ~ Thomas Jefferson
The numbers regarding STI transmission put out yesterday by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation are shocking in their duplicity, and the study is shameful in its methodology.
A performer STI ‘study’
For months, AHF has claimed that its mandatory condom bill, AB1576, was not an attack on the industry or its performers. However, it’s clear from this study that they have no respect for performers themselves, and that their ultimate goal is not to improve the industry, but to shut it down. In his press conference, Michael Weinstein claimed that performers were a threat to public health, and are “leading to the spread of disease outside the industry.”
If AHF wanted to foment a moral panic about porn, this study is a great way to do it. A few points worth bearing in mind as you consider their conclusions.
- Rather than publishing the study, which would allow the press to examine the numbers and the methodology fully, AHF released it as an infographic poster — less information than you’d get an 8th grade science project. This isn’t data, it’s propaganda.
- Rather than only using data from the regulated facilities where adult performers test every two weeks, and which would provide a true random sampling, AHF solicited a portion of their participants instead from an STI treatment clinic, which they knew would skew numbers higher.
- A full 20% of the participants in the study had not shot a single adult film in the past month, making the claim that these numbers reflect workplace transmissions spurious at best.
- In fact, over 70% of the participants said they didn’t use a condom in their private life, and another 23% said they had exchanged drugs/sex for money. AHF made no effort to distinguish STIs that came from adult film workplaces from those contracted off-set. Furthermore, it fails to mention that any performer who tested positive for an STI at an industry testing center would be prevented from working. Still, in their press release, AHF stated that this study “[confirms] the high STD risk performers face at work.” No, it doesn’t.
- This abstract, released before the study began, shows that they went into the study looking for a specific result — that adult film performers are a threat to themselves and others — rather than an accurate one.
- They didn’t get the numbers they wanted on other STIs, so they left them out. The initial proposal for the study stated an intention to study STIs including syphilis and HIV. They only released data on chlamydia and gonorrhea, suggesting that even with their skewed methodology, they couldn’t generate the evidence of the STI danger they wanted.
- The additional data they released about prostitution and drug use has nothing do with safe workplaces, and everything to do with debasing adult film performers. Because they haven’t released the backing data or even the questions used, no one can even evaluate this for truth, or see how it correlates. There are good reasons this paper hasn’t found a publisher.
- The data shows that porn performer have access to, and do often use condoms. Even in their own skewed study, almost a third of participants said they had used a condom on an adult film set in the past thirty days, which counters to their oft-repeated claim that performers denied condoms on set, and are “blacklisted” if they request one.
- This is not the first time that AHF has released data that was flawed and had to be retracted. Or even the second time. In fact, AHF has a long history of using junk science to support political campaigns.
This report treats adult performers like pariahs, and has little to do with workplace conditions. It’s tremendously revealing about AHF true intention, and the lengths they’ll go to push this bill on performers. Wisely, adult performers are familiar with AHF’s tactics and have been vehement in their opposition to AB1576 from its inception. Over 600 performers have signed a petition asking legislators to vote against AB1576, because it will criminalize adult filmmaking and make their working conditions less safe.
It’s also worth noting that in introducing the study, Michael Weinstein of AIDS Healthcare Foundation said that HIV is not his primary concern, STIs are. This is in stark contrast to everything he’s said for years, the people he has put forth at hearings, and the mission of his organization. It seems his own research is telling him what performers and producers have been trying to tell him — there hasn’t been a workplace transmission of HIV in the adult film industry in over ten years.
We look forward to the release of the actual numbers so that we can have an honest discussion about the real risks faced by adult performers, and how to best educate and protect them. We call on AHF to release the methodology and the raw data behind this study.
In the meantime, if you’re curious why performers oppose AB1576, check out this piece in Huffington Post by Casey Calvert.