LOS ANGELES—In a press conference held this morning, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) called for “universal condom use” after reports surfaced late last week that as many as five adult performers may have tested positive for syphilis.
“This is the living proof that self-regulation by this industry is not going to work. This is also proof that testing is not a form of prevention,” declared AHF president Michael Weinstein. “We look at the fact that syphilis has up to a 90 day incubation period. We look at the fact that this indxustry only tests its
employees every six months for syphilis; that a person could go as long as nine months without being diagnosed and the disease spreading… Clearly the time has come for enforcement fo the regulations that exist now at both the state and city level, and hopefully will exist shortly at the county level.”
Citing the fact that adult performers have sex with non-performers, Weinstein termed the five cases a “general public health concern,” noting that there had been an 18 percent increase in syphilis cases nationwide between 2010 and 2011.
One of the main purposes of today’s news conference was to support AHF’s ballot initiative, Measure B, that will appear on Los Angeles County ballots in November, which would require that all adult producers in the county obtain public health permits before shooting, and such permits would, in turn, require those companies to use not only condoms in the production of adult videos, but also dental dams, face shields, goggles and possibly protective clothing in any areas where performers might come in contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).
However, when AHF consultant Mark Roy McGrath took the microphone, he claimed that “since 1998, this industry has failed to provide even minimal health and safety requirements,” and noted that the current industry shutdown was national, and that “there is strong evidence to indicate that the syphilis started in Europe, on European shoots, and has come over to the United States, exposing our community, exposing our citizens.”
“We have repeated called for this industry to take minimal, minimal measures to protect these workers,” McGrath stated, going so far as to claim that “condoms are not even on shoots; they do not even have the option to select a condom,” though he must be aware of the extensive requirements that passage of the county’s Measure B would entail. He accused the adult industry of disregarding the law, and producers of failing to pay for performer tests, despite the recently-announced move by Manwin, via Free Speech Coalition’s APHSS system, to help compensate performers for their tests.
“This really comes down to corporate citizenship,” McGrath said. “We do not feel that California should allow corporations to act in such an irresponsible manner. This is about corporate citizenship; they have been poor corporate citizens.”
Weinstein also stated that it had been “widely reported in the porn blogosphere” that one performer had falsified his/her test, and opined that, since most performers’ only income is performing in movies, “the incentive to lie is there.”