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At least 16 previously unpublicized HIV cases in porn film performers, public health officials say [Updated]

June 11, 2009 |  6:08 pm

Los Angeles County officials released public health data this afternoon indicating that 16 previously unpublicized cases of HIV had been confirmed in adult film industry performers since 2004 when an outbreak shut down porn production for a month.

The 2004 cases -- involving a male porn star, three actresses he had worked with and an unrelated case in a transsexual performer -- drew intense scrutiny to safety practices in the industry.

The newly released data brings the number of known HIV cases in adult film performers to 22 since 2004, including a porn actress who tested positive late last week. At least 10 of those cases involved men who had sex with other men, according to health officials.

In all, 16 men and 5 women who worked as adult film industry performers contracted HIV between 2004 and 2008, according to Los Angeles County Department of Public Health data requested by The Times.

Between 1998 and 2003, 14 confirmed HIV cases were reported among adult film performers, according to the health department.

The previously unpublicized cases will probably shock adult industry workers, who repeatedly have described the new case as the first since 2004. It was not immediately clear whether any of the previously unpublicized HIV infections involved workplace transmission of the virus.

Officials from the San Fernando Valley-based Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation released more details this afternoon about the most recent case. The actress tested for HIV on June 4 and the first positive result was returned Saturday, according to a statement from AIM founder Sharon Mitchell on her clinic’s website. The woman had last tested negative for HIV on April 29, Mitchell said.

Three others with connections to the woman have so far tested negative for HIV, according to the statement, including two men described as "industry partners."

A man who worked with the woman on Friday, the day before she received her positive HIV test results, tested negative Tuesday, according to Mitchell. He is scheduled to be tested again June 19.

Another man tested "not detected" for HIV on Monday, the statement said. He had tested HIV negative on May 13, Mitchell said. The man is scheduled to test again on June 22. In addition, the girlfriend of one of the men last tested negative on May 19, according to the statement.

“Rumor is rampant when the words HIV and porn are in the same sentence; the media is like a moth to a flame,” Mitchell said. “We are finding that many clients, patients and companies are tempted to discuss this delicate matter with the world for whatever personal or professional gain. Fact is, that we are still awaiting final confirmation on the patient Zero, who was given a positive result on Saturday 6/6/09.”

She also dismissed rumors in the industry that AIM workers had given the woman a negative result in error allowing her to work and expose others.

“This too, is not possible, as there was no result available either positive or negative until 6/6/09,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell told AVN, an adult industry website, on Wednesday that the clinic had recently changed its policies on disclosure of new cases. "What we do is just handle everything privately unless there's a widespread problem," she said.

[Updated at 8 p.m.: Dr. Colin Hamblin, AIM's medical director, provided a different timeline of events later today. Hamblin said the porn actress first tested HIV positive on June 4 and worked the following day for reasons he said were still being investigated. A second positive result came back Saturday. And the clinic is awaiting results of a third and final confirmatory test, he said.

Hamblin described the woman as having had two recent sexual partners, a fellow porn actor who worked with her on June 5 and her boyfriend, who is not in the porn industry. Those men have had sexual intercourse with an additional six people, who have all been notified and offered testing, he said.]

--Kimi Yoshino and Rong-Gong Lin II

Related stories:

Porn industry healthcare clinic not cooperating, public health officials say

Porn actress tests positive for HIV

From the archives:

2 HIV Cases Put a Scare into Porn

See No Evil: In California's unregulated porn film industry, an alarming number of performers are infected with HIV and other STDs. And nobody seems to care.

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