SAN FRANCISCO — The St. James Infirmary, a peer-based occupational health and safety clinic for sex workers and their families, is urging California state senators to vote against AB 1576, the Free Speech Coalition said Wednesday.
The condoms-in-porn bill has the potential to criminalize of adult performers and producers, and the consequent weakening of the industry’s testing system, according to officials at St. James Infirmary, a medical and social services for sex workers.
“AB 1576 will drive out businesses, and it already has. The porn industry has had an estimated worth of $6 billion in California. The thousands of jobs it provides to performers, technicians, videographers, cooks, etc., will be lost,” the group said in a statement. “Here in San Francisco, we serve many performers and their partners. We are concerned about the unintended consequences of eliminating one of the safest options to engage in sex work.”
The St. James Infirmary joins a growing list of organizations fighting a bill that would make it a crime to not use a condom on an adult film set.
“The St. James Infirmary has been a crucial resource for adult performers for over fifteen years, and we’re so glad to have their help in defeating this bill, ” said Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition. “As a clinic, they are on the front lines of the battle for sex worker health, and are not afraid to stand up to the moral crusaders behind AB 1576.”
St. James Infirmary officials released the following statement about AB 1576:
This is the third time Assemblymember Isadore Hall and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation have attempted to push a mandatory use of “protective equipment” (e.g., condoms) on a state level, and we hope this is once again defeated and for the last time.
As a clinic that centers itself around harm reduction and workers rights, we believe mandating “protective equipment” along with requiring producers to hold on to HIV and STD testing information is an invasion of performers’ privacy and creates an alarming liability to performers and producers. If this AB 1576 becomes law, every Dick and Jane shooting an adult film will be responsible with upholding HIPAA protected HIV and STD information for performers. The room for error is great and concerning.
AB 1576 is touted as a response to a “public health crisis” that AHF has manufactured. The truth is that there have been no cases of HIV transmission on an adult film set since 2004. A self-imposed industry standard of HIV and STD testing for performers every 14 days has been effective in reducing transmission to incredibly low rates compared to the general public. Because this risk is so small, we question the real motive behind this bill.
We are deeply concerned of the potential criminalization of industry professionals and performers under this bill. If Cal/OSHA places a pornography set under the same standards and scrutiny as a medical setting, the transmission of fluids, whether accidental or not, may carry criminal penalties to producers and performers.
AB 1576 will weaken testing protocol and expose workers to infection. The bill defers to the California Department of Public Health and Center for Disease Control recommendations for HIV and STD testing, which has no specific understanding of performers risks. A rapid HIV antibody test detects HIV in most people at 8½ weeks, with DPH extending that until 6 months, whereas all major producers now use a HIV viral load test which detects the virus in 7-10 days after contact. Most adult producers already require full-panel STI testing no earlier than 14 days prior to any sexual shoot.
AB 1576 will drive out businesses, and it already has. The porn industry has had an estimated worth of $6 billion in California. The thousands of jobs it provides to performers, technicians, videographers, cooks, etc., will be lost. Here in San Francisco, we serve many performers and their partners. We are concerned about the unintended consequences of eliminating one of the safest options to engage in sex work.
We are disappointed that neither Assemblyman Hall nor AHF has ever reached out to performers or the adult film industry to consult with workers’ concerns and how to make a sensible law that actually protects workers rather than harms them.
We urge politicians to vote no on AB 1576 and invite legislators to craft a policy with performers, health care professionals, and adult industry producers that actually provides more worker protection rather the severe problems that AB 1576 will create.