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AIDS advocates say county should require condoms on porn sets

June 18, 2009 | 10:14 am

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is scheduled to hold a news conference today to criticize Los Angeles County's handling of HIV cases in the porn industry and to demand that the health department step in to require condom use during filming or shut down production.

The call for change by the Los Angeles-based AIDS advocacy organization -- one of the largest community-based HIV/AIDS medical providers in the nation -- comes in the wake of news last week that a female adult film performer tested positive for HIV.

The woman had worked despite lacking a clean test within the last 30 days, required under the industry's voluntary guidelines, according to officials from the San Fernando Valley-based clinic that serves the porn industry. She tested at the clinic on June 4 and then worked June 5. Her HIV-positive test results came back June 6, according to Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation officials. She had last tested HIV-negative April 29, they said.

Although AIM clinic officials described the new case as the first since the 2004 HIV outbreak that shut down  porn production for a month, the county public health department initially said there had been 16 additional unpublicized cases since then, creating a stir in the porn community.

But on Tuesday, health officials said they mistakenly labeled all cases reported by the clinic as being detected in adult film performers. In fact, Los Angeles County health officer Dr. Jonathan Fielding said, the Department  of Public Health did little investigation into those cases and do not know whether they were active performers. The clinic has maintained that they were aspiring actors and actresses who never performed or other non-performers who used their testing services.

Regardless, AIDS Healthcare Foundation officials contend the county has done too little to protect porn industry workers and safeguard public health.

"L.A. County Public Health officials have been asleep at the switch with regard to monitoring HIV and STD prevention and testing in the region's porn industry," Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said in a statement. "Under the auspices of California Code that is enacted into law and already on the books, we are calling on county health officials to immediately institute a requirement for condom usage in the production of adult films--something already far more widespread voluntarily in adult gay films. If not, county health officials should shut down production sets that refuse to comply with the California code."

Los Angeles County health officials declined to comment this morning.

On Monday, the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health performed a surprise inspection of the clinic. State officials said they will issue subpoenas later this week demanding patient records, including the name of the producer involved in the latest case. Health officials have said that the AIM Clinic has been slow to respond to their requests.

-- Kimi Yoshino

Related stories:

Health officials inspect clinic that serves porn industry

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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