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Titan Media Responds to Leslie Bill

Porn Valley- As part of the fallout from an HIV scare swirling through the porn industry, a California Assembly member has introduced a bill that would prevent HIV-positive actors from performing in porn shoots, and create a system where every adult film actor would have to get tested two weeks before any production involving other actors.

Republican Tim Leslie has introduced Assembly Bill 2798, which would also require production companies to pay for independent confidential STD testing. The bill comes in the wake of an HIV scare that became public last month in the porn industry, which is largely based in California. According to the Los Angeles Times, actor Darren James tested positive for HIV, bringing into question the industry’s currently self-regulated testing program. Further investigations showed that two female actors who had performed with James also tested positive for HIV. The outbreak has prompted the Los Angeles County Public Health Department to investigate.

So far the incident has not spilled over to the gay adult film industry, at least among companies that require performers to engage only in safe sex. Gay producers, however, have expressed concern about the legislation, pointing out it may be unnecessary or even encourage more risky behavior.

“I think we have monitored it better so far than the straight community,” Rick Ford, president of All Worlds Video, told Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network, “because we use protective sex always.” Ford noted that his company does not let actors who have performed in barebacking films onto the sets.

On Monday Titan Media President Bruce Lahey wrote a letter to Leslie arguing that AB 2798 would have the unintended consequence of discouraging condom use on porn shoots, and unfairly stigmatizing HIV-positive performers who do practice safe sex and have no history of infecting coworkers.

“Production companies that eroticized safer sex practices for the past 20 years will be forced into erotizing unsafe practices based on market demand and competition,” the letter stated. “Viewers, especially younger viewers, may get the mistaken impression that condom use is no longer the norm or that it is no longer required.”

The letter also argued that the bill equates HIV testing with prevention strategies, and while it may work to test porn actors regularly, it’s not a viable option for the public at large. Additionally, Lahey explained that the bill treated companies that practice safe sex in their films the same as companies that allow unsafe sex.

“We believe the effectiveness of mandatory testing is limited,” he wrote. “However, if mandatory testing is enacted, we believe it should include an exemption for production companies that employ the most effective means of HIV transmission prevention — the use of a latex condom.”

Titan Media Vice President Keith Webb estimated that between 30 to 50 percent of gay adult porn actors are HIV-positive. He added that the precautions taken by his studio — and by other studios that only produce safe-sex videos — keep actors safe.

“There’s never been a known case of HIV transmission on a gay adult set,” he told the Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network, regarding safe-sex video producers.

Webb would not make the same statement about companies that produce videos without safe-sex standards.

“There are some fringe studios that do barebacking videos,” he explained. “We do not support them. If they think what they are doing is defensible, they need to stand up and defend themselves, because we are not going to. We don’t think it’s right.”
 

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