Every so often, I hear from a producer or performer who feels that the 14-day testing protocol is too much work, or too much money, or not necessary. Why can’t we return to the days of monthly testing?
For those new to the discussion, monthly testing was the industry standard from 1998 to 2013. And it was very successful at preventing HIV and other STIs. However, performer health and safety is not a static goal. Just as the tests we use evolve, and what we test for improves, so does the testing regimen.
Science has shown that once a person contracts HIV, the virus multiplies quite rapidly.
The adult industry first began testing in earnest in 1998, when an outbreak of HIV among adult performers traced to a forged HIV test led to the creation of AIM, the Adult Industry Medical clinic.
For years, the testing “system” was a scattershot mix of paper tests, slow detection times, and, to some extent, an honor system among performers and producers. There was no real way to track performers and scene partners, to notify the exposed, or enforce a production halt.
We’ve come a long way since then. Thanks to our protocols, we haven’t had an HIV transmission on a regulated set since 2004.
Our protocols today require testing for HIV, hepatitis C, hepatitis B, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis. HIV is not only the most serious of those, it’s also the only one that cannot be cured, or prevented through vaccination. And the reason why we test every 14 days is deeply connected to HIV.
Science has shown that once a person contracts HIV, the virus multiplies quite rapidly. At first, there aren’t enough copies of the virus to allow it to be effectively transmitted to another person. After 14 days, however, the viral load begins to reach levels that dramatically increase the chance that the virus could be passed to another person.