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“Put a condom on that pornstar”

from www.samesame.com.au – Another HIV outbreak has recently hit the porn industry in LA. So should porn stars be required by law to use condoms during filming?

Several of the world’s best-known gay porn producers have made their mind up – Falcon Entertainment, Hot House Entertainment, Channel 1 Releasing, Lucas Entertainment, Raging Stallion, EuroCreme, Lucas Kazan Productions and Titan Media have all sworn never to produce condomless (bareback) porn videos ever again.

Tough-talking porn czar Chi Chi LaRue [pictured] led the way back in 2008, following a sharp increase in HIV infections among New York men under 30.

“We are seeing movies with 18-year-old twinks being gang-banged without condoms,” she lamented. “We are seeing 20-year-olds in the UK who have reportedly become HIV+ after making their first porn.”

LaRue vowed to always show condoms being used, and to promote on her all-male sex sets the same thing she feels every gay man should practice in their personal life.

“Some companies say that they test their models, which just gives a false sense of security,” she scolds. “There is no way to 100% protect the health of models by testing only. Assume everyone you are having sex with is HIV+.”

Eurocreme CEO Max Lincoln agrees. “There is a window period between an individual becoming infected with the HIV virus, and that individual showing up positive in an HIV test. During the window period, the infected individual can transmit the virus to others during unprotected sexual intercourse,” he told PinkNews.co.uk. “For that reason it is not possible for a production company to guarantee the safety of an actor in a bareback film.”

A number of straight porn producers found out that lesson the hard way last month, as production on explicit new videos by Vivid Entertainment Group and Wicked Pictures were abruptly altered after an actor reportedly tested positive for HIV.

While the pornmakers insisted they’d investigate and do all they could to ensure the safety of their stars, the situation reignited the great condom debate – especially since California newsrooms are reporting that at least eight other pornstars in LA have tested positive for HIV in the past five years.

Occupational heath officials and sexual health workers alike are hoping condoms will soon be made compulsory on porn sets. They argue that if building site workers are made to wear helmets to protect themselves, why shouldn’t porn models need to wear condoms for the same reason?

Interestingly, opinions from the readers of the Sydney Morning Herald were divided right down the middle when they were asked recently “Should actors in porn films be required to wear condoms and use protection against STDs?” 53% responded “Yes, their health is important,” while 47% decided: “No, it ruins the visual appeal.”

Same Same asked our friends on Facebook for their thoughts on the topic. “As a person who has HIV, I think that forcing porn stars to wear condoms might seem like a good idea in principal, but realistically, you’re only reinforcing the “secret squirrel” subculture that unprotected sex is becoming,” one reader observed.

The ongoing demand for bareback porn by some gay men was a concern to some. “This problem, much like drugs, would be better attacked by focusing on the demand side of the equation,” said another commenter.

A third added: “I think that bareback porn shouldn’t be fetishised like it is. If you outlaw something, then that makes monitoring the industry harder, and people will make underground bareback porn anyway.”

The AIDS Council of NSW believes that people who engage in unprotected sex with casual partners should use condoms regardless of whether it’s on film or not, says its CEO Nicolas Parkhill.

“This has been industry standard practice in the gay porn market for over twenty years and it should also be the standard in the straight porn market, where the latest instances of HIV transmission have occurred,” he adds.

“Apart from anything else it is best occupational health and safety practice for the performers involved and no one should be coerced into engaging in unsafe practice as a condition of employment – the industry should be self-regulating in this respect.”

Banning condomless porn altogether would not be practical, however. “ACON would not be in favour of ‘banning’ depictions of condomless sex, not least because it would be impossible to enforce,” says Parkhill. “Anyone possessing a mobile phone can ‘make porn.’

“There are studios producing this material for the gay market, usually featuring performers who are HIV positive and often featuring advisories about practices depicted. However, they are a niche segment of the overall market and likely to remain so given gay porn industry safe practice norms.

“Porn offers fantasy rather than reality and ACON is confident that the overwhelming majority of gay men are more than capable of telling the difference,” he concludes.

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