Clinic blasts calls for added oversight of porn industry
The announcement this week that an adult film performer tested positive for HIV prompted a San Fernando Valley clinic Wednesday to blast AIDS activists and public health officials for using the incident to renew calls for mandatory condom use and added oversight of the porn industry.
"The misfortune of a patient testing positive for HIV has been turned into a tragic farce by the efforts of groups to exploit the patient for their political and financial gain," the Sherman Oaks-based Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation said in a statement.
The clinic, known as AIM, noted in the statement that it is complying with all county, state and federal laws regarding both reporting the infection and protecting patient privacy.
Last year, an Alameda County Superior Court judge issued an injunction barring a request by state workplace safety officials for the work history of a performer who had tested HIV positive at AIM.
"Through the press, the state is making the same unlawful demands again, while knowing that the state is under a binding injunction barring it from demanding access to those kinds of records," the statement said.
The statement did not include any new information about the individual who tested HIV positive, except to say that, "It is impossible to know if the patient acquired the HIV virus from private conduct or on-camera activity."
AIM officials have so far refused to release the patient’s gender, the companies he or she worked for, when they received the positive test result or how many people have been quarantined as a result.
Karen Tynan, a lawyer for AIM, said the clinic cannot release such information by law because it might identify the individual.
"There’s a ton of curiosity," she said. "We just can’t breach patient confidentiality."
Tynan also declined to say how many individuals have been quarantined. The AIM quarantine means production companies are "placing a moratorium on filming any person one or two generations removed from sexual contact with the current patient," according to the statement, meaning both individuals who had sex with the person who tested positive and their partners.
"Upon completion of testing that cohort, in about ten days or two weeks, as well as highly sophisticated analyses of the genetic components of the infection, the nature of the exposure will be determined," the statement said.
AIM officials did not return calls. Meanwhile, more production companies announced they were temporarily shutting down production in light of the HIV scare.
Officials at Hustler Video and Digital Playground, two large production companies, both said they had halted production Wednesday. Hustler has put future shoots on hold, officials said.
"While we have suspended all future production plans in the short term, we will conclude our current shoot which will wrap within the week," Rob Smith, Hustler's video director of operations, said in a statement. "We have no plans to begin additional production until we get a better overview of the current situation."
Samantha Lewis, chief executive of Digital Playground, said the Van Nuys-based company also had canceled shoots "for the foreseeable future."
Officials from Vivid Entertainment and Wicked Pictures, two other large Valley-based production companies, said they suspended production Tuesday.
Wicked Pictures officials emphasized that although they require actors to use condoms, they postponed two productions as a precaution.
"How long they are postponed will be determined by the info that is released from AIM," said Steve Orenstein, the company’s president, noting that they "don't want to put any actor or actress in a position to work with someone that may prove to be on the quarantine list."
-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske