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Adult-film industry calls for STD regulation

December 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Health professionals and adult actors want new law to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in the adult-film industry.The adult-film business is a multi-million-dollar industry in Southern California, but some healthcare leaders say it's a risky business and they want it regulated. Thousands of cases within the industry have been reported to the L.A. County Health Department over the past several years.

"Just like a construction worker would not go into a construction site without a hard hat, an adult-film industry performer should not be performing high-risk sex acts without a condom," said Robert Kim Farley, L.A. County Department of Public Health.

A coalition of healthcare representatives is pushing for mandatory condom use in films, as well as more extensive STD screening that is paid for by the industry, not the performers

"I really think we need to not listen to folks that are not interested in protecting those who get paid to have sex and then have people pay for that, and if they are not interested in protecting them, then we'll have to do it for them," said Whitney Engeran, director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Health officials say HIV and STDs are five times more prevalent in the adult-film business than in the civilian world. This number is unacceptable to some, like former adult-film actor Darren James, who spent seven years in the business and contracted HIV in 2004 after having sex on camera without a condom.

"You rarely see a bowl of condoms sitting out there on a shoot because the production is so fast," said James. "It comes down to performance and timing. They spend a lot of money on locations, and they don't want to spend a lot of time waiting."

"In the last five years, there have been over 250,000 adult scenes shot and one person tested positive. I like that track record," said Steven Hirsch, chief executive officer of Vivid Entertainment.

While the HIV statistics vary between the adult-film industry and health officials, Hirsch says his company already follows procedures to keep performers safe.

Vivid claims that it is a condom-optional company, but Hirsch explained, "This is a fantasy business. People who watch adult movies don't want to see the performers wear condoms, and we've done a good job of making sure that the performers are healthy so that we can give it to them."


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