The California Department of Public Health has issued an alert after an adult performer tested positive for HIV and infected at least one other performer at a Nevada film shoot.
The alert issued late Monday recommends that adult film performers use condoms and that the production companies require on-set condom usage by performers.
The announcement by the state ratcheted up the war of words between supporters of mandatory condom use in adult films and industry professionals who believe their testing protocols protect performers from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, making condoms in films unnecessary.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein, who has led the campaign for condom usage, said that this incident counters industry statements that performers who are infected with HIV are exposed outside of film shoots.
“This new case puts truth to the lie that the industry has promoted year-after-year, years that sadly saw several additional performers infected while working in the porn industry,” Weinstein said in a prepared statement.
Weinstein and AHF were the main proponents behind Measure B, an initiative approved by voters in November 2012 requiring condom usage on adult film sets within Los Angeles County. The group worked unsuccessfully with lawmakers the past two years to get a similar law passed statewide. The group is currently collecting signatures to get an initiative before voters on the November 2016 ballot on mandatory condoms in adult films for all of California.
The Free Speech Coalition, a Canoga Park adult industry trade group, disagreed with the department of public health that there was a current threat for adult performers. It also argued that the Nevada case highlights why mandating condom usage has actually caused more health dangers to performers; local production has fallen and more producers are shooting outside California.
“Non-complaint shoots are one of the chief dangers of pushing the adult industry out of state, and outside the established testing protocol,” coalition Chief Executive Diane Duke said in a prepared statement.
Testing for HIV had been done at the film shoot using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, or ELISA, test. The Free Speech Coalition, however, said it uses the more sensitive RNA test to detect an infection.
“The ELISA tests have large window periods that delay how early an infection can be detected, and have not been accepted within the adult industry for over a decade,” Duke said in her statement.
The public health department alert is connected to an incident from October when it was reported to the Free Speech Coalition that there was an exposure to HIV on an out-of-state movie set. The coalition immediately put a hold on all adult filming to determine if the performer pool had been infected. The hold was lifted after six days.
While the male performer had tested negative for HIV prior to two separate film shoots, a test after the filming determined he had become infected, the public health department alert noted.
“Public health investigation and laboratory results provide very strong evidence that the actor transmitted HIV to the other actor as a result of unprotected sex during the film shoot,” the alert said.
The coalition called for moratoriums on adult filming in August, December and August 2013, and August 2012 after performers tested positive for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.