AIDS Healthcare Foundation files workplace safety complaints against porn producers

Snip from LA Times article: "Vowing "never to stop pushing" for condom use in porn, AIDS Healthcare Foundation officials said Wednesday that they plan to file complaints today with state officials against 16 California-based production companies they say have violated workplace safety laws." (Thanks, Susannah Breslin!)

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  1. I’m going to be comuI’m going to be a complete [insert inappropriate sexual expletive here] about this and say:

    I don’t really want to see condoms in porn. I don’t really watch much porn these days, but when I do, it’s supposed to be a fantasy. In fantasy, I’m not wearing a rubber between me and some gorgeous other person.

    The industry puts people at risk in many ways, and they are pretty fanatical about how their STD testing, which I think is far enough. At some point, consenting adults (as long as they are consenting) with a decent level of certs in that industry are taking risks and making (hopefully) good money for it.

    I dunno. Life involves risk. Being a late-night convenience store clerk is still far more dangerous than porn, and I would have to say, it’s less rewarding in many ways…

  2. @IMAG

    The problem is that a lot of the actors/actresses that actually want to use protection to, you know, protect themselves are pressured and manipulated into doing it bareback in front of the camera because of the standard “It’s a fantasy and these people all have the power to make their own choices” attitude that the customers seem to share.

    It’s the same kind of blind “me me me” attitude that results in industries having all kinds of horrid practices. Food, packaging, all consumer goods, porn…

  3. After reading the interview of Sasha Grey in RS a few months back, I was pretty surprised about how nonchalant and open she was about contracting STD’s “at the workplace”. She is a famous p0rn star, and yet it’s completely normalized in her pornstar-colonized mind to get an STD every other fuck she shoots. Mind you, even though her newfound fame has “empowered” her to now be able to demand that her sex partners be tested 72 hours before a shoot, she STILL gets STD’s all of the time. The only caveat she had was that it was a bummer that if she gets an STD, then so does her boyfriend too. Sucks she has to bring her STD’s home to her man.

  4. STD testing for HIV is problematic (and we all know this already, right, kiddies?) because it can take a long time — up to six months after initial HIV infection — for an infected person to develop the antibodies that would give a positive test result.

  5. The Answer:

    Computer Generated Dingalings!

    Hollywood has made the use of CG appendages become ever cheaper, so all you need is condoms with those motion-detector thingies, and then you can remove the penis’ condom, make it bigger, less rashy, make it sing a blues song when you least want it to…the possibilities are endless!

  6. #5: Your post needs additional information. But I get the point of what you are saying. Just because you test negative doesn’t mean that you weren’t infected yesterday. If the 6 month window is true then it’s a small percentage of problem, if anyone at all, really. Most people will produce antibodies in 6 weeks (1.5 months) and some even sooner. It is possible to get a rapid HIV test these days using blood (finger stick or blood draw) or using fluid from the mouth. The test takes 20 minutes to develop. The companies that make these tests put the window at 3 months.

    And while we are on it, if you think you were exposed to HIV during sex, you can start PEP within 72 hours. It can be accessed at ERs in progressive areas, through your PCP, or even through a medical study. Of course, in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma you might run into trouble getting it. PEP is a medical intervention of HIV medications that is taken for 28 days with the hope that it will prevent an HIV infection. And of course, it possible your insurance company (if you have one) will not pay for it.

  7. #7 – Good of you to clarify and summarize the point about the delay so succinctly.

    Some more source material:

    http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2010/chapter-5/hiv-aids.aspx

    “Most people will develop detectable antibodies within 2–8 weeks (the average is 25 days). Ninety-seven percent of persons will develop antibodies in the first 3 months following infection. In very rare cases, it can take up to 6 months to develop antibodies to HIV.”

  8. The question of how soon it’s detectable is a complete red herring. Surely we should be worried by how soon it’s transmissable, and the window between one’s becoming a vector and subsequently doing something about it?

    Also, speaking personally (and I speak as a male porn… erm… consumer) a goodly portion of my enjoyment of the art form comes from seeing the lady’s appreciation of the act, if you catch my drift. Whether or not the gentleman is sheathed tends to be an irrelevant detail.

  9. “The problem is that a lot of the actors/actresses that actually want to use protection to, you know, protect themselves are pressured and manipulated into doing it bareback in front of the camera because of the standard”

    Well that’s sort of akin to complaining about having to have sex in a porno, no? I mean, you need to draw the line somewhere. There are things people are OK with and things they are not OK with…but you have to draw the line somewhere. If an actor/actress isn’t comfortable having unprotected sex on film when all other possible per cautions have been taken then maybe he or she is in the wrong industry.

  10. My God, give them all the protection available. There is all sorts of coercion in the porn biz. We can start a long thread about choice, however I can’t imagine any little girl saying that she wants to bang goats live on the internet when she grows up. One less threat is just the first step.

  11. I love how porn has become, in the American English language at least, has been granted the title of ‘industry’ as if it weren’t mostly filthy exploitation coercion and/or debasement for the most part.

    I know, I’m not cool.

  12. Pffft, moral panic. What next –no more car chases or stunts? Certainly, stunt work has injured/killed more people while making films than HIV has.

    @1 IMAG or anyone – Is the full text of the Sasha Grey Rolling Stone Interview available online anywhere? The RS site just has a blurb about the interview, and then directs you to its dead tree edition.

  13. “…mostly filthy exploitation coercion and/or debasement…”

    My sentiments also.

    Someone, somewhere, must take a stand:
    Uncool one, take my uncool hand.
    (apologies to Eve Merriam)

  14. I spent some time in the porn industry and there are lots of issues surrounding this. There are also lots of red herrings such as several previous posters have been tossing about with abandon.

    Without getting into the nitty gritty of testing methods, procedures to get clearance to perform, and other details – my first reaction to this was simply that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is going to have a hard row to hoe. Industry reps will be able to produce voluminous evidence that the rate of AIDS infection among porn talent is significantly less than any number of identifiable other populations. Is the Foundation going to file complaints against the city of Washington DC, for example? If memory serves me right, the general population of DC has a higher rate of HIV/AIDS than the porn industry. (And no, I’m not going to go poking around AVNOnline for a cite on that. I’m sure there are plenty of readers who’d love to prove that my memory is faulty.)

    While STDs of various sorts are treated with an offputting casualness (and so is drug abuse) within the industry, HIV/AIDS, specifically, is something they take seriously and have been generally effective at controlling. What more would the Foundation ask of them? If these people weren’t in the industry, they’d be screwing around nearly as much without being (at least somewhat) subjected to an enforced testing protocol. I have no doubt that those people would have a *higher* rate of HIV/AIDS than they do now. Surely that’s not what the Foundation wants, is it?

  15. @IamInnocent, benenglish

    Actually, a lot of people in the sex industry work there in part because they consider the other employment opportunities available to them to be more exploitative and demeaning. Not to mention the vastly inferior pay.

  16. This story underlines the false promise of ‘safe sex’ which boils down to “Just throw on a rubber and go at it.”

    Condoms have to be very carefully used, along with dental dams and, for that matter, probably surgical gloves if you actually followed thru on all the advice.

    Great sex is messy, involving lots of hands and mouths as well as genitals… and is gloriously juicy.

    The ‘just wrap that rascal’ mindset breeds ‘wham bam thank you ma’am’ boring tab A- slot B sex — or lots of risk taking around the margins.

    Find someone you trust (and love) and skip the latex.

    Short version: would you have sex with a stranger you *knew* had HIV, with just a condom?

    I didn’t think so.

  17. The main criteria I have for this or any other industry is “are the participants consenting adults who are aware of the risks?” If the answer is yes then no worries. If the answer is no, fix the problem.

  18. A friend of mine who performed in a number of gay porn films originally came out to California hoping to make it on the soaps. He achieved a certain specialized fame and, in a way, did fulfill his dream of making a career in the entertainment business. He died of AIDS before the age of 30.

    Had he lived just one or two years longer, he would have been able to take advantage of the many life-saving drugs that help to keep HIV a somewhat manageable condition.

    I think the advocacy efforts of AIDS organizations should, of course, focus on prevention. But getting the medications to those that need them should be the first priority here and abroad. Absolutely means the difference between life and death as anyone who has had friends die on one side of the epidemic, and survive on the other knows well.

  19. regularfry#9:

    The question of how soon it’s detectable is a complete red herring.

    I don’t think it’s a red herring if it’s in response to the suggestion in #1 that STD testing is enough to ensure a safe work environment as far as STDs.

  20. @ Deamon, #16

    You are right, I know: not much of a comfort is it, to have only that choice? Compound this with the fact that it is rarely the best choice in the end for most, if self-respect and self-determination, health and an open future is of importance to one.

    Of course there are the tough ones who will become ‘Madams’, the Margaret Thatchers of their trade, and exploit the other weaker persons. Quite an alibi for the ‘Industry’.

    But, back on topic, am I glad that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation becomes a splinter up their lazy pimp asses: yes. Why? For the pain it gives them, sure, and for something more: the hope that it’ll make room for more autonomous persons. Protecting oneself against STDs is showing self-repect; abandoning that right is loosing some of it. The bosses in that industry want easily manipulable employees, just like most any other bosses.

    Disclosure: I’ve been raised in close contact with a biker gang, the Popeyes in Trois-Rivières (much tougher than the name tells, not tough enough when the Rock Machines invaded), dancers (their girlfriends) and whores (their ex-girlfriends, to simplify the equation). A tough French-Canadian Catholic mom pulled for me with all her strength, to give me the opportunity of a choice, which I made, with nuances.

  21. Note that the industry already self-regulates. They keep a database of every performer and keep track of who has performed with whom. Regular AIDS tests are a condition of employment. Some argue that, if condoms were mandatory, mandatory AIDS tests would be deemed an illegal and discriminatory employment condition. Question in that latter case is then whether the risks of a condom breaking with a co-star who’s more likely to have AIDS is worse than no condom when everyone is tested.

    Note also the potential for the industry to be driven abroad or underground if consumers continue to demand bareback pornography and California law prevents its production. In either case, expect the incidence of AIDS to get worse rather than better.

    See also Alexandre Padilla’s research on industry self-regulation, reported on here:
    http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com/2009/08/afternoon-roundup_24.html

  22. The issue of workplace safety is completely different from the “Are these people consenting adults?” line of reasoning.

    Employees need to have their rights protected by law because they are in a vulnerable position vis-a-vis their employers. This just means that employees are under pressure to do what employers tell them to do in exchange for the money they need to pay their rent. Protecting employees with laws that safeguard their welfare ensures that people are not placed into unnecessarily dangerous situations by people who rarely have their best interest at heart.

    Yes sex is far more stimulating for a man when he’s not wearing a condom (it is nice to actually touch your partner, not just feel pressure through latex) but the kind of random encounters portrayed in mainstream pornography are less satisfying than the fantasy suggests for this very reason – people engaging in such casual encounters should be using condoms. This is why fantasy is also a kind of stupidity.

    STDs are not merely prevented by condoms but also by cultural practices. I cannot imagine that pornography produced commercially by production companies will ever match wider cultural practices – the vast majority of people don’t choose to fuck someone new every day – and this means that even if condoms were introduced to the sets it probably will never be as safe as a day at the non-pornographic office.

  23. …so if pornography is safer in the future it will not be as it currently is in terms of its cultural practices.

  24. Hi there,
    my name is Josie Jennatto and I am an actress myself,
    unfortunately while filming in nevada i was treated really poorly by the producer when i insisted on protection before shooting production with 2 actors that one of them had his tests done over a month prior and the other actor had no std/aids tests done but the producer was willing to take his word for it, i was not.
    i have filmed both in canada and usa in Toronto they always tell the actress it looks better without but it is up to you what your comfortable with its your health thats at stake, in toronto the tests are manditory and it is still to your disrection which makes a porn actress actually feel like a human being unlike being threatened that if i dont do as i was told in nevada that i would nt get my contract set pay. it was the worst experience in my life, and im still owed the remainder of monies owed and the company said they re closing production, yet on their site they state they are still casting and have added an additional movie with myself in it without my consent. I STRONGLY AGREE WITH A PERSONS RIGHT TO PROTECT THEMSELVES PORNO OR NOT
    THANK GOD I NEVER CONTRACTED ANYTHING BUT FOR OTHERS ITS TOO LATE SOMETHING MUST BE DONE ABOUT THIS! feel free to contact me, to advise me on litigation or to sign a petition! JJ

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