“The system is not working even if a single performer is infected due to lack of testing”

Ben gets it.

Ben Eckersley writes on www.policymic.com – Earlier this week, a fourth porn star reportedly tested positive for HIV after a scare started in August. These cases have occurred intermittently within the industry for a number of years, but the most recent one comes after a 2012 Los Angeles County ballot measure that required condoms for sex acts in adult films.

The ordinance passed but has not been enforced. In such a widely legalized industry as America’s, it is appalling that safety protocols for performers would be so lax that such an outbreak could occur. But is the widespread reluctance to use condoms in the industry its own fault or that of consumers?

As things stand, the industry has a 28-day testing protocol for performers, organized by its industry advocacy group, the Free Speech Coalition. It’s in these windows of time, where a performer may work on numerous shoots, that an infection can spread. There were brief scares in late 2010 but these did not involve so many actors. On top of this, the typical shooting moratorium after the initial scare had been lifted after the FSC thought the infection had not spread to anyone else.

What makes this even more troubling is that it comes right after a California bill to enforce the LA ordinance on condoms died in the State Senate. A technicality has allowed it to reintroduced again but it faces stiff opposition from the Free Speech Coalition. They claim it would ruin the industry and have severe adverse effects on the Californian economy.

They can’t really be faulted for wanting to protect their jobs, but it is clear that the system is not working even if a single performer is infected due to lack of testing.

Ultimately, the problem is that there are many people who want to view adult films that don’t have condoms. In a world with stricter legislation, the condom law would push the industry out of California, or far more dangerously, into unregulated film production. So what is to be done?

Stoya [pictured], a porn star wrote in a post how mandated condoms would do very little because of the vast differences between average sexual behavior (what the condom is designed for) and what is performed in front of the camera. Perhaps she is right, but more trenchantly, she pointed to greater concern for the health of performers and more sex education for them.

Sadly, the awkwardness of porn in American culture means that consumers probably aren’t going to stand up for the rights of the people who work for their entertainment.

But after the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, which had previously maintained the testing program, closed in 2011, there are few dedicated advocates for the well being of these people. An industry group like the FSC will protect employees in its sector up to a point, but ultimately their interest is in maintaining profitability.

Actors can be replaced, and a lot more infections would be required to scare off all potential performers. The most effective regulations would target film companies or consumers through a tax on their consumption and put this dividend into sex education programs, improved testing protocols, and better information management for the industry. No sector’s workers should have to suffer such terrible risks.


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