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Porn industry health clinic gets a surprise state inspection

June 17, 2009 |  5:21 pm

Tired of the slow response from a San Fernando Valley-based health clinic where an adult film actress recently tested positive for HIV, state health and safety investigators Wednesday made a surprise inspection of the medical offices and will issue subpoenas this week demanding access to patient records.

Since news of the new HIV case broke last week, public health officials and AIDS advocacy groups have repeatedly criticized the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation for not cooperating fully with county and state authorities and for protecting the industry by shielding the name of the production company that filmed the woman without a current, clean test.

The state also is seeking information about 18 additional HIV-positive cases that have been reported to Los Angeles County health officials since 2004 by the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation. The county did not investigate those cases and has no information about whether they involved active adult performers, non-performers or aspiring performers or how the transmissions occurred.

AIM has said that the latest case involves the first active performer to contract the disease since a 2004 outbreak shut down production for a month.

“We were unaware of all of these cases until recent reports came out,” said Dean Fryer, a spokesman for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “That’s why we wanted to get into the clinic. We wanted to interview staff that work there. We wanted to look at records. We want to understand this.”

The state agency had been prepared to go to court to obtain a warrant to gain access, but when investigators arrived Wednesday afternoon in Sherman Oaks, clinic officials let them in and cooperated.

“The response was fairly good,” said Amy Martin, special counsel to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “They allowed our people to do a walk-around. They allowed them to speak to employees. There was no exchange of documents yet. There will be in the future and we’ll see how that goes.”

Sharon Mitchell, the former porn star who opened the clinic in 1998, could not be reached for comment.

The clinic’s attorney, Mark Levinson, said, “It’s strange that this happened at this particular moment, but it’s their right and we have nothing to hide.”

He said he could not comment on requests to turn over documents until he receives the subpoenas.

Kimi Yoshino

Related stories:

L.A. County backtracks on reports of porn HIV cases

Porn industry clinic takes anti-HIV steps

Porn star recalls nightmare of testing HIV positive

More porn HIV cases disclosed

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