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L.A. porn stars show higher rates of STDs than Nevada prostitutes

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation protests for condoms in porn in 2011 in Los Angeles. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Adult film stars in Los Angeles County have significantly higher rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia than legal prostitutes in Nevada, according to a report published this week.

A study of 168 adult film performers in Los Angeles County found that 28%, or 47 performers, tested positive for either gonorrhea or chlamydia or both diseases. On Tuesday, voters will decide the fate of a measure that would require porn actors to wear condoms.

The report was written by six public health experts whose affiliations include the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and UCLA.

"Compared with the brothel workers of Nevada, another legal sex worker population in the United States, [gonorrhea] and [chlamydia] prevalence in this study is significantly higher," said the report, published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases on Tuesday.

The study ran from mid-May to mid-September 2010.

Sexually transmitted infection rates among legal prostitutes are negligible, the report said, because brothel workers in Nevada are required by state law to use condoms and are tested weekly for disease. Since those rules went into effect in Nevada, there have been no cases of HIV infection, and their infection rates were negligible, the report said.

In contrast, the report said, there have been a number of HIV infections among porn stars in Los Angeles County since the 1990s. The report said that there was "very low" consistent condom use among the study participants, either on the set or in their personal lives.

"The results of this study suggest that many performers in the [adult film industry] are not safe on the job from acquiring and transmitting [sexually transmitted infections] at multiple anatomical sites," the report concluded. "Repeated and chronic infection with [sexually transmitted infections] can lead to infertility, chronic pelvic pain and ectopic pregnancies, and can facilitate HIV infection."

The authors also said that many adult film performers may not be aware of an infection.

The study was published a week before voters will go to the polls to consider Measure B, which would require adult film performers to wear condoms during filming. The initiative is sponsored by the L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which says that porn performers need to be protected from HIV and sexually transmitted disease, and the issue is a matter of protecting public health.

The adult film industry has opposed the measure, saying consumers don't want to buy porn that features condoms. They say that regular testing of adult film performers offers a safe environment for them, although they have acknowledged the risk of disease infection.

Opponents of Measure B have argued that voters do not want the creation of an unwanted, ineffective county bureaucracy and said the industry can police itself.

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-- Rong-Gong Lin II

Photo: The AIDS Healthcare Foundation protests for condoms in porn in 2011 in Los Angeles. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

 
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