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Group calls on L.A. city leaders to stop issuing film permits for porn in wake of new HIV case [Updated]

October 15, 2010 |  2:14 pm

AIDS activists are calling on the Los Angeles City Council to suspend new film permits for porn productions after a San Fernando Valley clinic that caters to the industry announced this week that a performer had tested HIV positive.

On Friday, officials from the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation asked council members to instruct FilmL.A., the permitting agency they contract with, to stop issuing permits while the latest HIV case is investigated by officials with the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation.

AIDS Healthcare has campaigned for years for greater government enforcement of condom use and safe-sex practices in porn.

“We are not anti-porn,” said Ged Kenslea, a spokesman for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “We want to suspend porn production until this incident is sorted out.”

Some prominent Southland porn production companies, including Vivid Entertainment and Hustler Video, announced this week that they had voluntarily suspended production, but Kenslea said the shutdown is far from complete.

“A requirement from L.A. City Council would send a powerful message that the public bodies think it’s an important public health issue,” Kenslea said.

It appeared unlikely that the city council would suspend the permits.

Councilman Richard Alarcon told The Times that he was hesitant to antagonize the porn industry and risk lawsuits over civil rights violations.

“To revoke a permit for an entire industry -- where does it stop?” Alarcon said. “If a stuntman injures himself -- and we know there are injuries to stuntmen all the time -- are we going to pull all the permits for the industry? The answer is no. There are civil rights issues that this particular industry has been very strong on and, frankly, they have prevailed.”

Alarcon said that a city suspension of porn company film permits could prompt “extensive litigation at great expense to the taxpayers.”

He said the groups’ concerns relate to workplace safety, a responsibility of state, not city, officials.

“They have the workplace regulations, and it’s incumbent on them to target,” Alarcon said.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl said he was concerned, noting that his first partner died of AIDS, and he worried that adult performers may know they are HIV positive and continue to perform.

“I knew individuals who were HIV-positive and continued to have sex. I think that’s criminal, and I feel the same way about the porn industry. They should police themselves, but if they don’t, there should be something we can do,” he said.

Some performers have defended the industry’s current practice of requiring regular tests for active performers, tests administered by the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation clinic, which is known as AIM, and said they believed the clinic was handling the latest scare appropriately. Clinic officials, who have declined to identify Patient Zero by name or say how many performers were on a quarantine list due to possible exposure to the virus, have said they were doing everything possible to alert those at risk.

[Updated at 2:17 p.m.: Karen Tynan, an attorney for the AIM clinic, said Friday that it was still waiting for final test results to come back on Patient Zero, a test she said was required to be completed before a report to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. She said the clinic has until Saturday to meet the seven-day deadline for reporting new HIV cases to local health officials.]

Still some porn industry stars were critical. Jenna Jameson on Friday called the industry a “ticking time bomb” in an interview with Radaronline.com.

“The fact is that safe sex is not continuously practiced in the adult film world,” Jameson told the entertainment news site, adding her production company always gave female performers the option of using condoms.

“I always told them that it was better to practice safe sex,” Jameson said. “Is one movie worth your life?”

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

RELATED:

Darrenjames Porn industry clinic comes under fire for its handling of HIV case

Former porn star Darren James speaks out about latest HIV case

Wicked Pictures and Vivid Entertainment suspend production as a precaution amid new HIV case in porn performer

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