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Adult Industry ‘Fig Leaf' Doesn't Cover Much, says AHF

Adult Entertainment Industry Trade Group’s Voluntary Plan to Address “Bloodborne Pathogens” Worker Safety Regulations Include a Paragraph About Laundry and a Promise that “…the performers will stop and wash affected body parts to help reduce the risk of STDs.” Released Yesterday on the Heels of AHF Petition to Cal/OSHA to Explicitly Require Condoms Use on Porn Sets, Plan is “Completely Bogus Without Condoms,” says AHF

Los Angeles, CA (Vocus) December 18, 2009 -- Calling the plan a “fig leaf that doesn’t cover much,” AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today responded to the porn industry’s plan for the control of bloodborne pathogens on adult entertainment film sets. The plan, released yesterday by the Free Speech Coalition, an adult-industry trade group, came on the heels of AHF’s petition to Cal/OSHA—presented to the agency yesterday—seeking to clarify protections for workers in the adult film industry and to explicitly require condoms. Though AHF believes the Cal/OSHA’s current regulations to prevent the transmission of “bloodborne pathogens” on California worksites does apply to porn sets, the adult industry’s refusal to comply has made such an explicit requirement necessary.

According to an article on the adult entertainment news website (“Free Speech Coalition Drafts Performer Safety Plan,” Rhett Pardon): “The plan’s contents are comprehensive for worker safety and address numerous practices over everything from controlling waste to housekeeping to the cleaning of sex toys. It also addresses training, as well as pre- and post-scene evaluation, and makes examination recommendations for new-to-the-industry performers.”

The industry’s voluntary plan, while including such measures as requiring regulated waste be disposed of in Biohazard Waste Containers and a detailed section about laundry procedures for bedding and wardrobe, stops short of requiring condoms.

“Far from being a comprehensive plan to address the serious problem of sexually-transmitted disease among porn performers, the industry’s voluntary plan is simply a porn fig leaf that doesn’t cover much,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “The 13-page document leaves out the one and only piece of equipment that is proven to be effective in preventing the transmission of sexually-transmitted diseases – a five cent condom. Without a condom requirement, the industry’s plan is completely bogus. Luckily though, they have vowed to do the laundry.”

Additional procedures included in the plan are what the Free Speech Coalition is calling “Performer Work Practice Controls.” Among the proposed safety measures, is the following:

“At the end of the scene, the performers will stop and wash affected body parts to help reduce the risk of STDs. For example, if anal sex is performed on a female performer, the performers will stop at the end of this scene and wash affected body parts (hands, penis, vagina, anus, etc.) with appropriate sanitizing wipes (safe for human contact) before proceeding with the next scene.”

“There is no such thing as a comprehensive worker safety plan for adult performers that excludes condoms,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Director, AHF Public Health Division. “More and more, performers are being asked to participate in higher risk activities such as double and triple penetration—activities that increase risk of exposure to disease present in body fluids. What is being presented in this plan falls appallingly short of complying with Cal/OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard designed to protect workers from exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials at a California worksite. Washing the affected areas afterwards with sanitary wipes is a fine way to prevent the spread of the common cold. But, as a measure to prevent the transmission of STDs, including HIV, it is laughable.”

For several years, AHF has advocated for legislation require condoms in adult films produced in California in order to protect performers and the public health. The ongoing campaign has gained considerable momentum in recent months after it was reported in June that an actress working in the adult film industry had tested positive for HIV.

Yesterday, AHF filed a petition with the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Cal/OSHA) seeking an amendment to California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 5193 “Bloodborne Pathogens” to clarify protections for workers in the adult film industry and to explicitly include a condom requirement. AHF efforts during this past year have also included filing sixteen worker-safety complaints with Cal/OSHA over the lack of condom use in adult films made in California and a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) to require condom use in the production of pornography.

These latest actions have been prompted by an ongoing epidemic of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) in California’s adult film industry. According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH), workers in the adult film industry are ten times more likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease than members of the population at large. The County documented 2,013 individual cases of Chlamydia and 965 cases of gonorrhea among workers between the years 2003 and 2007. LADPH has observed that many workers suffer multiple infections, with some performers having four or more separate infections over the course of a year. These numbers are widely believed to be significantly underestimated as testing within the industry is limited.

In addition, the County has stated that as many as 25 industry-related cases of HIV have been reported since 2004.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest global AIDS organization. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 120,000 individuals in 22 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and the Asia Pacific Region.


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