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String of HIV infections brings porn industry to a standstill

By David Ferguson
Saturday, September 7, 2013 12:25 EDT
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Motion picture camera via Shutterstock
 
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After a third pornographic performer tested positive this week for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the erotic film industry issued a nationwide moratorium on production. According to Reuters, the third actor — whose name and gender have not been revealed — is the latest in a string of positive diagnoses that began three weeks ago.

In spite of the fact that the Los Angeles County City Council passed an ordinance in 2012 requiring pornographic performers to use condoms on set, the industry has largely felt free to flout the regulation.

Joanne Cachapero, membership director for the adult film trade group the Free Speech Coalition, said that a physician affiliated with the screening facilities used by the coalition reported to the group that a performer had tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The trade group declined to release the name or gender of the performer, nor would they reveal where the actor is based.

“While we don’t have evidence to suggest an on-set transmission as opposed to a transmission from non-industry (off-camera) related activity, we are taking every measure to determine the source and to protect the performer pool,” read a Free Speech Coalition statement released Friday. The group has called for a moratorium on all current productions until the problem can be addressed.

On Aug. 21, a woman who performed under the name Coral Bay came forward to announce her HIV-positive status, prompting a call from the Free Speech Coalition for companies to halt production. That moratorium expired, however, on Aug. 27.

Since then, an actor who performed as Rod Daily also announced that he has contracted HIV. However, Daily worked through a private physician rather than through the Free Speech Coalition’s doctors, so the industry group did not call a halt to shooting.

The erotic video industry remains a multi-billion dollar business annually in spite of the proliferation of pirate websites and the glut of amateur offerings that has resulted from widespread availability of phone cameras. Headquartered in California’s San Fernando Valley, the business, some say, treats performers as replaceable, disposable commodities that are exploited and then abandoned.

Michael Weinstein of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a lead advocate in the passage of the L.A. County law requiring condoms on set, told the Guardian that the industry isn’t geared toward the protection of performers, but rather the maximization of profit.

“I’m sad for the person involved,” he said of the latest infection. “But I’m really sad for our community, that we’re treating these people as utterly disposable.”

Weinstein said that a fourth HIV-positive performer has contacted his organization in recent days, but declined to give any further details.

[image of movie camera via Pavel L Photo and Video / Shutterstock.com]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
 
 
 
 
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