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Porn-condom initiative nears finish line on signatures, group says

February 28, 2012 |  9:59 am

Photo: Darren James, in an interview in 2009, recounted the story of how he tested HIV positive while an adult film actor in 2004. James is expected to speak at Tuesday morning's press conference. Credit:  Stefano Paltera / For The Times
An AIDS activist group says it has collected more than half the signatures needed to put a measure on the L.A. County ballot in November requiring adult film actors to wear condoms while filming.

The L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation said it has spent two months collecting more than half the 232,153 signatures and has three months to get the rest.

The group planned to hold a news conference Tuesday morning outside the county's health department building on Figueroa Street downtown to announce its progress.

The foundation has long sought greater action from the county to require porn actors to wear condoms. But county officials have repeatedly said they believe the issue should be dealt with by the state, not the county.

"We said from Day 1 that the primary responsibility for public health and disease control stands with L.A. County," said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

He said he would prefer the county Board of Supervisors draft legislation but he would go to the voters if he must.

"We are still hoping that they will step up to the plate and do the right thing," Weinstein said.

"It's been very strange to us ... that the county has so steadfastly refused to take action," he said. "One thing we've demonstrated: We have the wherewithal to put this on the ballot, and most people believe we have the wherewithal to enact it at the ballot box."

Weinstein said the measure has won support from a wide spectrum of voters, among all age groups and genders.

Condoms in Porn: Proposed L.A. County Ballot Petition on Public Health Permits for Porn Producers  Weinstein's ballot measure would require adult film producers to obtain a permit from the county Department of Public Health, pay a fee and require condoms be used during adult filming.

County authorities would be able to suspend or revoke the permit for violating the ordinance, and violators would be subject to civil fines or criminal misdemeanor charges.

The measure is aimed at protecting the health of porn performers, the  foundation has said. Darren James, who contracted HIV while a porn performer in 2004, is expected to speak at Tuesday's news conference.

On Monday, a spokesman for county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, whose district includes the San Fernando Valley -- where the vast majority of adult films are shot in L.A. -- reiterated the supervisor's belief that the state, not the county, should be the lead regulator on the issue.

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county's director of the Department of Public Health, declined to comment Monday.

The adult film industry has said it opposes a condom requirement, saying performers should have the freedom to choose how they want to have sex and that regular testing for HIV protects performers.

Sales of adult films declined when the industry tried a condom requirement in the 1990s, and most producers of non-gay porn subsequently abandoned it.

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Photo: Darren James during an interview in 2009. Credit:  Stefano Paltera / For The Times

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