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Following news that the multi-billion-dollar, Los Angeles-based porn industry will be suspending operation for several weeks due to an outbreak of syphilis among adult film performers, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) will host a press conference and teleconference Monday, August 20th, at 10:00 am Pacific Time at AHF headquarters (6255 Sunset Blvd., 21st Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90028.
AHF over the past six years has independently been championing safety reforms in the adult film industry, including efforts to require the use of condoms in all adult film productions. AHF and other advocates did so after two outbreaks or incidents of HIV infections tied to the industry that occurred over the past eight years.
According to the Los Angeles Times, The Los Angeles County Public Health Department “…is investigating a possible cluster of syphilis cases among adult film industry performers,” and “…has received reports of at least five possible cases in the last week, said Peter Kerndt, director of the county’s Sexually Transmitted Disease programs.
The county plans to follow up with the affected individuals to ensure that they have been properly treated and to determine who else may have been infected. Public health workers are also attempting to find out the original source of the recent cluster.”y
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH), workers in the adult film industry are ten times more likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease than members of the population at large.
LADPH documented 2,013 individual cases of chlamydia and 965 cases of gonorrhea among workers between the years 2003 and 2007. In the period April 2004 to March 2008 there have been 2,847 STD infections diagnosed among 1,884 performers in the adult industry in LA County.
LADPH has also observed that many workers suffer multiple infections, with some performers having four or more separate infections over the course of a year.
In addition, LADPH has stated that as many as 25 industry-related cases of HIV have been reported since 2004. County health officials attribute the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in the porn industry to a lack of protective equipment for partners, including condoms. The agency recommends condoms be used during production, but has never taken steps to ensure their use, or to protect the performers who are essentially required to endanger their health in order to remain employed.
Several organizations committed to protecting the public health have called for mandatory use of condoms in the production of adult films, including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the California Conference of Local AIDS Directors, the California STD Controllers Association, the National Coalition of STD Directors, the National Association of City and County Health Officials, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the California Medical Association.
AHF officials and members of the advocacy group FAIR (‘For Adult Industry Responsibility’) have been shepherding support for a Los Angeles County ballot initiative that will appear on the November ballot which will require adult film producers to obtain a public health permit from County Health officials, much like barber shops, nail salons and tattoo parlors, as a condition of doing business in Los Angeles. The groups will officially kick off the campaign for the ballot measure, which County election officials recently assigned the title “Ballot Measure B,” in early September.