Several producers of gay adult videos got together with members of the Free Speech Coalition and representatives from AIM Healthcare Foundation yesterday to talk about an impending threat to the adult industry as a whole from a new government coalition of healthcare advocates.
The meeting, which was held at the Ramada Hotel on Santa Monica Blvd. was chaired by AIM founder Dr. Sharon Mitchell. Also in attendance were Free Speech Coalition president Nick Boyias, board chairman Jeffrey Douglas and executive director Kat Sunlove, board member Kim Airs, plus more than a dozen gay video company executives and their representatives.
"Word has it that Cal-OSHA, which is a state agency, the federal Centers for Disease Control, the state Department of Health and the county Department of Health STD Program, along with the state Labor and Industrial Relations Board, have formed an intergovernmental task force, and that they are very concerned about the day-to-day operations and healthcare in pornography," Mitchell noted. "I think it's a good idea for us [the adult industry] right now to be on the same page and to be very prepared in case this task force decides to make a move."
"They can hit us where it hurts if they can hit us on the healthcare," she warned. "Therefore, we really need to be proactive and to guard against any kind of surprise from them; all it takes is a few meetings and a few heads to put together, and I think between Free Speech and AIM, with all of our resources, there's nothing that we can't do in terms of alliance."
Mitchell and other speakers made it clear that, considering the excellent healthcare and disease transmission prevention record on both the straight and gay sides of the industry, they understood that any attempt at regulation by the task force would likely be motivated by an attempt to curtail adult video production, possibly by instituting unworkable testing protocols and other requirements. Mitchell said that the best way to counter such attempts is industry unity.
"The industry convened a meeting today to consider and to get together a healthcare protocol that will be satisfactory to the gay side of the industry," Mitchell explained, "because until now, the adult industry has been split in two: The straight side, that shoots without condoms, and the gay side, that shoots assuming everybody's HIV positive. So we decided that it was time to end this and get some protocols together that would satisfy concerns of both groups."
Mitchell warned that if left without input from the industry, the task force could very well decide that there existed a healthcare "state of emergency" within the industry, and use that as an excuse to put a moratorium on production of all adult videos, both gay and straight.
To that end, Mitchell quizzed the gay industry attendees as to what services and information they provide on sets to ensure that performers are both informed and protected against various healthcare concerns. That list, which is being finalized, will be released to the public in the near future.
Mitchell is also working with the producers of gay product to get a more definitive answer to the question of how many performers on the gay side are HIV-positive, and to establish a baseline, through STD testing, to show that diseases are not being transmitted on sets. Mitchell, very cognizant of the fear that many HIV-positive males have of winding up in some official HIV database, assured the audience that the results of the testing will remain confidential.