Peter Acworth writes at www.peteracworth.com – Last week, a performer tested HIV+ through the industry PASS (Performer Availability Screening Services) system.
We immediately halted production while performers could be re-tested and protocols examined. We take the health and safety of performer’s extremely seriously, and no matter where the performer contracted HIV, it’s our responsibility to make sure our safety protocols are inviolable.
In this case, as they have for Kink’s entire history, the protocols worked. (Despite filming thousands of scenes each year, the straight adult industry itself has not seen an on-set transmission of HIV in the United States since 2004.) But that hasn’t stopped fear-mongering, HIV hysteria or willful misunderstanding of what happens on a Kink set.
I do not want to attack those who are concerned about condoms on adult sets or those who believe that our protections are not enough — those people, too, are concerned with safety of adult performers. But it’s important for me to talk about how we conduct ourselves at Kink.
For kink.com’s gay sites, all shoots are condom-mandatory. On the straight side, we only work with performers shown cleared for work in the PASS (formerly APHSS) database. This means they have tested negative for a slate of STIs in the last 30 days, including HIV via the highly sensitive RNA test.
All of our performers have the right to ask for a condom to be used at any time during a shoot, for any reason. Earlier this year, in response to performer feedback, we instigated a double-blind condom policy. Performers confidentially choose whether they want condoms to be used, and when directors hire a performer, they do so without knowing that performer’s condom preference. (Some of our biggest stars, like Lorelei Lee, consistently use condoms.)
On sets like Public Disgrace, which are open to non-adult performers, we do not allow anyone who has not been tested to do anything that might transmit an STI. If a performer has indicated in writing that he or she is comfortable with it, we allow these persons to perform activities such as touching, slapping or fondling, but this is entirely up to the performer. Negotiated consent is the central tenant of BDSM, and it’s part of the foundation on how we built Kink.com.
These past few years, we have worked closely with the STD Prevention and Control division of the SF Department of Public Health on training for employees and providing a safe workplace. We also host free bi-annual screenings and STI counselling for all local performers whether from a studio or independent. We have documented Blood Borne Pathogen and IIPP protocols which include rigorous cleaning of all toys used etc. We carry worker’s compensation insurance which covers all performers. And we’ve worked with Cal-OSHA to do on-set inspections. We are committed to helping keep our community stay safe and healthy.
This particular performer performed at Kink.com on July 31st. She tested negative on July 27th via the most sensitive HIV tests available, and was thus shown as cleared for work in the PASS database, as were all those persons she performed sexually with. Additionally, those same people she performed sexually with tested negative for HIV again after that July 31st shoot.
Anytime someone tests positive for HIV — whether an adult performer or not, whether through sex work or not — it is devastating for the person concerned. However, that doesn’t mean it should be a reason to demagogue from either side, to blame the victim, people’s sexuality or what they choose to do for a living. We work hard to protect our performers, and it’s important to us that anyone in the Kink family — fans, performers or staff — know the truth about our protocols and standards.
If anyone has any questions about the particulars, I’m happy to answer them. But the issues are too serious to allow opinion, speculation and politics to take the place of fact.