Last week, Michael Weinstein of the controversial (and powerful) AIDS Healthcare Foundation, launched an attack on the Center for Disease Control, over the CDC’s endorsement of pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) drugs like Truvada which have been shown to prevent the transmission of HIV. Rather than embrace the move, Weinstein published an open letter entitled “What If You Are Wrong About PrEP?”
As someone who has endured Mr. Weinstein’s morality crusades myself, I have to ask: Mr. Weinstein, what if you are wrong about the adult film industry?
For the past five years, attacking the adult film industry over HIV has been your near singular focus. You’ve railed against producers. You’ve called performers a threat to public health. You’ve run ballot measures, initiated boycotts, and wasted millions of dollars on failed legislation. You spend public money monitoring porn for condoms, and use your valuable resources shaming anyone who doesn’t share your conservative morality. But what if you’re wrong about us? What if, rather than being part of the problem, the adult film industry could be part of solution?
Sound odd? Despite shooting hundreds of thousands of scenes, the last time there was an HIV transmission on a regulated adult set was in 2004 — over ten years ago. Our performers test for a full slate of STIs, including HIV, every two weeks, and the entire industry stops production anytime there’s even a remote possibility that an STI like HIV or syphilis might pose a risk to the performer pool. If this were any population other than porn stars, you’d be praising its incredible success. (In fact, the NY Times has called us “an unlikely model” for HIV prevention.)
You see, sexual health is integral to our business. Performers know more about their bodies — and how to protect them from STIs — than any other demographic on the planet. If a performer contracts an STI, they may not be able to work, sometimes for weeks. And in the case of production shutdown, the entire industry loses money. Even if we were the greedy profiteers you so often portray us as, we’d still have a vested financial interest in keeping the performer pool safe.
Of course, it’s not just about money. The adult industry is a small, tight-knit community, and we care deeply about what happens to our fellow performers. They are our friends, our co-workers, and, in some cases, our family. Many producers, like myself, were or are performers. That’s why we’re always looking for ways to improve the system.