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from www.swrnn.com – AIDS healthcare advocates today challenged Los Angeles County health officials to step up enforcement of a law requiring porn actors to wear condoms.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation announced the filing of a complaint with the county, accusing a porn producer of violating the Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry ordinance, to test the county’s resolve.
“The threshold question here is whether the county is going to enforce this law,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein.
AHF championed Measure B, which passed with a 56 percent margin of voter support in the November election and led to the new ordinance.
Weinstein said the foundation received an anonymous letter alleging that Immoral Productions — which obtained a county health permit for a film shoot as required under the new law — had not posted signs on set notifying performers that condoms are required, and that prophylactics were not in use during filming.
AHF went online to check content being streamed by the production company and confirmed that condoms were not in use on the set, according to Weinstein.
Neither the owner of the production company nor county health officials were immediately available for comment.
But the Department of Public Health’s website states that the ordinance “requires all adult film producers filming in unincorporated county areas or in any city that has adopted (the county’s health code) to obtain an Adult Film Production Public Health Permit.”
That permit is conditioned on the use of condoms and other safety precautions — including display of the permit — to minimize the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Department administrators will enforce the ordinance, according to the website.
But county officials have said enforcement will be difficult given the large number of small production companies operating throughout the county in temporary locations, including personal residences.
“Violations of the law are recorded and streamed live,” he said.
Adult filmmakers and actors filed suit against the county in January, declaring the law unconstitutional.
That suit, filed in federal court by Vivid Entertainment, alleges the ordinance violates the First Amendment right to free expression and is unnecessary because the industry already regulates itself against HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases.
According to AHF, 23 individuals believed to be connected with the adult film industry tested HIV-positive between 2004 and 2010, and county health officials confirmed that eight of those people were likely infected as a result of working in porn.
Vivid’s founder and co-chairman, Steven Hirsch, has countered that more than 300,000 explicit scenes have been filmed since 2004 with no HIV/AIDS transmission.
Industry representatives also contend that enforcement will drive production — which generates jobs and tax revenue for the county –underground or out of the region.
Members of the industry are “thumbing their nose at the county,” Weinstein said. “In the porn blogosphere, people are blogging about the fact that the county does not want to do this.”
AHF is not seeking an injunction or specific punishment against Immoral Productions, which could be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in jail, according to AHF’s lead lawyer.
“We are not interested in punishing people,” said attorney Tom Myers, who said AHF wants spot inspections of production facilities and “whatever allows the studios to comply with the law.”
Conducting those spot inspections should be no different than checking in with operators of a barbershop or nail salon, Weinstein said, “unless the problem is the ‘ick’ factor. If so, they really have to get over this.”
Myers has compared the use of a condom in porn to the use of a harness or net for stunt men in non-adult films.