Michael Weinstein on the Syphilis Outbreak: “This is slow-motion train wreck”; Numbers Could Reach Into the Triple Digits

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from www.latimes.com – Antibiotics will be made available Wednesday for more than 1,000 porn performers after an outbreak of syphilis prompted a nationwide moratorium on adult film production and calls for more regulation within the industry.

The Los Angeles-based Free Speech Coalition, an industry trade group, plans to test all performers for the disease and said on its website that antibiotics would be available at locations in Van Nuys, Las Vegas and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The group called for the halt in production Saturday after reporting one performer had tested positive for syphilis.

The Los Angeles County Public Health Department confirmed to The Times on Monday that they were investigating at least five cases of syphilis related to the adult film industry. Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the department, said Tuesday that additional testing of performers and their partners showed the number was up but stood at less than a dozen.

But more cases are likely, Fielding said, because performers often have unprotected sex with multiple partners.

“It’s not surprising that we would have cases of syphilis in the adult film industry,” he said.

He encouraged those who had been exposed to the disease to not only seek treatment but also to be tested to help trace the outbreak.

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, called the outbreak a “slow-motion train wreck,” saying the number of those testing positive for the disease could reach triple digits based on information from “reliable sources.”

Weinstein said the outbreak was another reason to support Measure B, a proposal on the Nov. 6 countywide ballot mandating the use of condoms during professional porn shoots.

“This underscores the need for the minimal standards to be implemented,” he said.

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