Data being used in support of a new condom bill in the California legislature is so flawed that it may be purposefully misleading, says the Free Speech Coalition, an advocacy organization for adult film performers and producers.
Last week, Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation presented an unpublished study to bolster his controversial mandatory condom law, AB1576. The numbers suggested that adult performers are at higher risk for STIs than the general public, but the FSC says the study is methodologically flawed, and may have been engineered to generate a specific result.
“Instead of only using data from normal performer testing centers, which would have provided a random data sample, the study solicited participants from a small clinic that treats people who already have an STI,” says Diane Duke, head of the Free Speech Coalition. “It gives a wildly skewed picture of STIs in the performer population. This isn’t science, it’s politics.”
The Free Speech Coalition has released a nine-point rebuttal of the study, which they say is junk science engineered to stoke public fears about adult film performers. The post, entitled “The 9 Most Outrageous Flaws In AHF’s Performer STI Study” details the use of non-active performers in the study, the willful conflation of on-set and off-set transmissions, and the failure to disclose any methodology.
Weinstein also suggested performers may be spreading STIs to the general public — a claim met with outrage by performers.
“If the adult performer population is a socially vulnerable group, it is precisely because of so-called ‘studies’ like Weinstein’s,” said Lorelei Lee, an adult performer who’s been at the forefront of the Stop AB1576 campaign. “The prejudiced questions and skewed data presented here are a reckless use of my community members for political gain. His claims are an attempt to reinforce the exact inaccurate stigmas we have been fighting against for decades.”
Proponents of AB1576 have been reprimanded repeatedly for using misleading data. Earlier this month, the LA Department of Public Health was forced to publicly correct AB1576 author, Assemblymember Isadore Hall, after he made unsupported claims about HIV in adult film. AIDS Healthcare Foundation also has faced criticism for using numbers from a long discredited 2011 study that claimed performers were more likely to have an STI than the general population. In actuality, when compared with groups similar in age, data suggests that the frequently tested adult performer population actually has a lower incidence of STIs than their non-adult peers.
“If we want to better protect performers, we need to deal with the facts, not fuel a moral panic,” says Duke. “Thanks to rigorous testing, there has not been a single on-set transmission of HIV on an adult film set in over ten years.”