Alexandre Padilla,[pictured] assistant professor of economics at the Metropolitan State College of Denver and a research fellow at Reason Foundation writes on www.forbes.com :
Last week, several health groups, led by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, announced plans to develop a strategy that will push California legislation to regulate the adult film industry, mainly by mandating the use of condoms in all movies. The goal of such legislation is to protect adult film workers as well as their partners and the community at large. But the industry is already doing an excellent job protecting its performers. Mandating condoms in all films would lead to unintended consequences that would likely increase, not decrease, HIV outbreaks.
Since the industry’s HIV testing policy was implemented in 1998, there has been only one major outbreak. All other cases of performers testing HIV-positive were discovered before they could infect other performers. The PCR-DNA test used by the industry detects HIV much earlier than the standard ELISA test used by the general population. And most adult film performers are tested monthly, while only 10% of the general population reported being tested for HIV in the last year. There are an estimated 250,000 people living with HIV who are unaware of their infection. AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the supporters of mandating condoms imply that the threat is coming from inside the adult film industry. The reality is that, since the adult film industry implemented its HIV testing policy, all but four performers who tested positive for HIV contracted HIV outside the industry. The threat does not come from inside the industry but from outside.
Condoms undeniably help lower the risks of HIV infection. But that doesn’t mean the government should mandate condom use in adult movies–and it certainly doesn’t mean that such regulation is a good idea. For one, the adult film industry would have to make every performer an employee to satisfy the California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, laws.
This would be detrimental: California’s anti-discrimination laws prohibit requiring an HIV test as a condition of employment; therefore the adult film industry’s current testing process, in which every performer is tested for HIV monthly, would be illegal. Nor would adult film producers be allowed to “discriminate” by refusing employment to HIV-positive performers. As a result, untested and HIV-positive performers would be able to work in the industry, raising the risks of HIV outbreaks–particularly since condom breakage or slippage can occur.
Second, condom-only regulation would also encourage a black market in adult film production. So movies featuring no-condom sex would not only still exist, but those actors and actresses would no longer be required to participate in the industry’s HIV testing program, increasing the risk of an HIV outbreak in the industry and the population at large. One need only look at prostitution to see what happens when an industry operates underground.
Third, the porn industry could just pack up and leave California, which would render the law unenforceable and trivial. Since the adult film industry is a significant source of California’s revenue, the state’s budget crisis will likely get even worse. Thousands of people working directly and indirectly for the industry will also lose their jobs.
Good intentions do not guarantee good results. The costs and consequences of adopting a condom-only regulation far outweigh any benefits. The adult industry has done an excellent job policing and testing itself. The government is likely to do more harm than good to the health of both porn performers and the general public if it meddles in adult entertainment.