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AIDS Healthcare Sues AIM Over Medical Privacy

Claims all performers are damaged by AIM testing procedures and disclosure

AIDS Healthcare Sues AIM Over Medical Privacy

LOS ANGELES—The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) announced today that it had enlisted two former adult performers, Desi and Elli Foxx, to sue the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM) for alleged violations of medical privacy laws. The lawsuit is expected to be filed today in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Although an AHF press release claims that the organization has "separately been championing safety reforms in the adult film industry," in fact, the actresses' primary attorney is Brian Chase, who is also AHF's assistant general counsel and is representing the actresses without charge ("pro bono"), clearly as part of AHF's long-running campaign to force the adult industry to adopt a "condom/dental dam/goggles only" policy for sex scenes.

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At a news conference held this morning, AHF president Michael Weinstein claimed, among other falsehoods, that AIM tests only for HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea, and does not test for syphilis, human papilloma virus (HPV), herpes or hepatitis—in fact, AIM tests for syphilis every six months, since it is a less-common STD, and tests for herpes, HPV and hepatitis at its clients’ request; plus, it provides anti-hepatitis and HPV vaccinations for all performers entering the industry.

Although AIM is a testing facility which employs a physician to oversee its activities, Weinstein claimed that AIM itself should be held to the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians to "First, do no harm," implying that testing performers to make sure that they are free from sexually transmitted diseases is somehow harming them.

According to the AHF press release, "AIM violates the privacy rights of performers in the adult film industry by allowing the producers of adult films online access to workers' health care information without the individual consents and releases required by federal and California law. AIM knowingly and intentionally provides this private information to producers of adult films in order to facilitate the production of adult films." On the contrary, however, performers who test at AIM sign an agreement allowing AIM to make their test results available only to adult producers who may wish to hire the performers for adult movies and web content; the information is not made available to the general public or anyone outside the adult acting/producing community.

The lawsuit further claims, "AIM further jeopardizes the health and well-being of performers in the adult film industry by discouraging the use of condoms and other safer-sex practices known to prevent and dramatically reduce the spread of STDs." Although AHF personnel have been to the AIM facilities several times—most recently during a protest march outside AIM's Van Nuys offices about two months ago— apparently they missed the large bowl of condoms in the lobby of AIM's facility, which anyone who visits is free to take as many as they like. AIM has also produced videos, "Porn 101" and "Porn 102," featuring veteran performers Nina Hartley (who's also a trained nurse), Brooke Hunter and Dr. Sharon Mitchell, which is available on its website, which details safe-sex practices which performers are urged to engage in when performing in adult content, and in their personal lives as well.

The lawsuit describes both AIM's system of disclosure only to the adult producer community, and its testing authorization document, which also indemnifies AIM from damages related to that disclosure, as "an unfair, fraudulent and deceptive trade practice" under California law, even though those wishing to perform in adult content voluntarily sign the authorization before testing in order to help prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the industry. The AIM regimen has prevented all HIV transmission within the hetero adult community for the past six years, and kept transmission of STDs a very low levels.

AHF is seeking to have its lawsuit certified for "class action" status, and if that were accomplished, it would mean that all adult performers would be considered plaintiffs, whether they approved of the lawsuit or not.

That Desi and Elli Foxx—who performed both separately and as a mother/daughter team in a total of less than 50 adult productions beginning in 2007 until they both quit the industry in 2009—were enlisted as the plaintiffs in this lawsuit is hardly surprising. Desi, under her real name, Diana Grandmason, runs a website, porninthevalley.com, wherein she claims that, "There are women and children who are trafficked into Porn Valley every year," and that, "Degradation and abuse of women in porn is increasing sexual violence all across America." Neither claim is true, and recently have been debunked in, among other studies, "The Porn Report," by Prof. Alan McKee, Dr. Katherine Albury and Prof. Catharine Lumby of the University of Melbourne in Australia.

Moreover, Desi Foxx has long been connected to Shelley Lubben's Pink Cross Foundation, and wrote an extensive "confession" on the Pink Cross site, since taken down, about her personal experiences before she and her daughter got into porn.

In answer to a question at the press conference, Desi noted that it wasn't because of having contracted any STD that the pair left the industry.

The AHF press release claims that AIM's "actions and ongoing business practices repeatedly place thousands of people like [the Foxxes] at risk of disease and death," ignoring the fact that AHF's own HIV testing procedures use HIV antibody testing, which the adult industry abandoned more than a decade ago as too unreliable, since a person could be HIV-positive for as long as six months and still "pass" the test.

Though one of the AHF officials—either Weinstein or Chase; the speaker was not identified—claimed at the press conference that it was not trying to drive the adult industry out of business, the official made it clear that, between AHF's pushing for investigations of AIM in California, Florida and nationally through the federal Department of Health and Human Services, and through the various laws restricting adult filming in states other than California, Florida and New Hampshire, AHF doesn't think the industry has anywhere else to go besides California, so if its attempts to have AIM shut down are successful, the practical effect of AHF's campaign will be to destroy (or at least severely cripple) the American adult entertainment industry.

(Pictured: Desi Foxx)






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Dr. Sharon Mitchell
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