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Condoms Only a Matter of Time

Porn valley- This morning California state and county officials said the recent HIV infection of two porn stars has given them the leverage they need to force change. Today Los Angeles County health officials and Cal-OSHA made good on it by conducting what constituted a raid on AIM today for records pertaining to Darren James and Lara Roxx the two performers who were diagnosed as HIV-positive last week.

The county health dept. and OSHA are also requiring AIM, in what constitutes a no choice situation, to turn over records of the first- and second-generation of performers who may have been exposed to the virus.

Acting on the belief that the current situation is an official outbreak, it’s considered only a matter of time when adult entertainment will be condom mandatory. There’s also talk of no facials, i.e., protecting workers from exposure to semen. Likewise, no internal cumshots would be allowed with production companies required to pay for HIV testing.

According to reports, Cal/OSHA will begin inspecting the production companies involved in the outbreak immediately, visiting their sets and making sure that all Cal/OSHA standards are being met.

The other standard that Cal/OSHA is seeking to enforce is the requirement that all employers have a written injury and illness prevention plan. when it comes.

Industry lawyers have disputed the agency’s legal authority. But Cal/OSHA has broad powers to fine or even shut down production companies that are found to be in violation of safety standards though companies will likely challenge those powers by arguing that adult talent are not employees, regardless of the fact if they’ve signed waivers indemnifying the production companies from injuries or illness contracted while working.

Peter Kerndt, director of the sexually transmitted disease program for the county Department of Health Services saidthat porn performers even if they are independent don’t give away their rights to a safe work environment just because their contractors.

California’s worker safety laws don’t specifically cover the adult movie industry, but Cal-OSHA may have jurisdiction under regulations requiring employers to have a written injury and illness prevention plan and to provide protections for workers exposed to disease-infected blood or other fluids.

Cal-OSHA would like the industry to adopt a model plan for disease prevention, although specifics are unclear, Susan Gard, spokesperson for Cal-OSHA said.

Kerndt said he believed it would involve requiring condoms for all sex scenes as well as paying for actors’ HIV testing, vaccinations for other sexual diseases and treatment.

Requiring condoms for all work would be overkill, argued Kat Sunlove, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for the adult entertainment industry.

“Do we really want condom police?” she asked. “They are overreacting to a very sad situation.”

About 200 movie producers, most of them located in the San Fernando Valley, produce thousands of adult movies a year for an industry valued at $4 billion to $13 billion. Many involve unprotected sex because, insiders say, on-screen condom use spoils the fantasy for viewers and results in lower sales.

The industry argues that it does a good job of self-regulation. Performers must come up clean on a monthly blood test to work. More than a dozen would-be actors have been rejected by major companies because they failed tests. The last HIV scare, in 1999, involved a single actor.

Health officials have worked with the industry to promote the self-policing system but in this case it failed, Kerndt said.

Darren James performed with 13 actresses before his latest blood test last week showed he was HIV-positive. One actress, Lara Roxx, also has tested HIV positive. More than 60 performers who had contact with them have been barred by the industry from working until their next blood tests are completed, and at least 30 production companies have halted production indefinitely.

James apparently contracted the disease last March. James could not be reached for comment Tuesday and was reported “laying low” in San Diego.

Roxx, 22, said she is broke and has been staying with friends in Los Angeles. Her test results following her March 24 movie shoot with James “totally freaked me out,” she said.

“It isn’t a safe business, and I thought it was… I thought porn people were the cleanest people in the world,” she said.

Some observers said regulation might turn the once-forbidden industry back into the shadows or even out of state.

“Probably the reality is they would go underground, which just raises the risk” of disease, said Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.



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