LOS ANGELES—In a press release touting its full-page ad on page 3 of the most recent edition of LA Weekly, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) calls on the Los Angeles Department of Public Health to shut down any adult production where condoms aren't being used, describing such sets as having a "disregard for the lives of the thousands of young people who work in the industry as well as the health of the public at large."
On what evidence, you may ask? Well, there's the claim of adult performer (and AHF patient) Derrick Burts aka Cameron Reid aka Derek Chambers, who recently announced that he had been poorly treated by AIM after allegedly becoming HIV-positive on an all-condom gay porn set in Florida.
Of course, Burts' story has changed several times since he initially went public with it, first saying that he contracted the disease through oral sex, then claiming that the virus somehow entered his bloodstream while wiping off a cumshot to his back.
And then, of course, AHF trots out questionable statistics from the health department, claiming as "fact" that "performers in hardcore pornography are ten times more likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease than members of the population at large." [Emphasis in original]
However, according to Dr. Aaron Aronow, an expert on HIV transmission and an associate of AIM Healthcare, his study of AIM's porn star client records revealed that gonorrhea infections in the performer population from 2005 to present have averaged 1.6 percent, while chlamydia infections have averaged 2.5 percent for the same period. Coupled with the fact that performers have been known to return to AIM for retesting two or three times before medications have cleared the diseases from their systems, the actual infection rate for the performer population is only slightly higher than for the population at large. By comparison, the Centers for Disease Control, which track STD infections in the general population, note on their website that Los Angeles County ranked first in the country for chlamydia infections in 2009, with 46,977 cases, and second in cases of gonorrhea, with 9,020 cases. (By comparison, the most gonorrhea-infected county was Cook County, Ill., and that the most gonorrhea-infected region is the Southeast.)
The AHF press release also reiterates the organization's lies about the status of AIM. After noting that L.A. City Councilmember Bill Rosehdahl, the recipient of $1,000 in campaign contributions from AHF, has moved that the council require the City Attorney to report within 45 days on how to prevent non-condom adult productions from obtaining filming permits, the release continues:
"That action came on the heels of explosive news that L.A. health officials closed the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM)—a Sherman Oaks clinic funded by and serving the adult film industry—after California state officials denied AIM a community clinic license. The facility had been operating without a proper license for over a decade."
In fact, AIM is part of the offices of Dr. Colin Hamblin, the organization's medical advisor. It was only when the county health department claimed last June that AIM had to be licensed as a "community clinic" that AIM applied to the state for such an operating permit, and as of this writing, that application is still pending. As AVN reported, in a letter dated Nov. 30, a representative of the California Department of Public Health required AIM to correct the organization's name on the application, and specifically gave AIM 60 days from the date of the letter to effect the correction. Also, according to an article in the Los Angeles Daily News, the state also wants a fire safety inspection (which the city is duty-bound to provide) and the name of a hospital where patients could transfer to if needed—except, of course, that AIM has no inpatient facilities from which it would transfer any patients. The point, however, is that these are technical points—which the Daily News described as "extremely minor paperwork violations"—that have little or nothing to do with AIM's ability to provide testing services to adult performers.
It should be noted that just yesterday, the Daily News editorialized about the utility of keeping AIM open, describing AHF's mania to close AIM as an example of the "societal schizophrenia" that "straight society" usually brings to any discussion of the adult industry—and notes AIM co-founder Dr. Sharon Mitchell's charges that both AHF and the county health department have conspired against her organization. In fact, Mitchell believes that both groups have already submitted grant requests to the CDC to get funding for their own clinics to perform much the same testing that AIM already provides to the performer community.
"While his [Weinstein's] concern about the spread of AIDS and HIV is admirable, he's misguided if he thinks persecuting AIM or adult film actors will make the public safer," the Daily News editorial concludes. "It's likely to have the opposite effect. AIM provides important support for adult film stars. AIM tests about 1,500 clients a month. And some have said that if AIM didn't do these screenings, they probably wouldn't happen. In fact, losing centers like AIM will likely force adult film production underground or to other states, endangering workers and public health even further."
Finally, it should also be noted that although the AHF ad refers to "mandatory condom use in porn," what the operative section of the health code (which was created solely to protect hospital workers) actually requires is not only condoms for any contact with blood or "other potentially infectious materials" (which would include blowjobs and even kissing) but also dental dams for pussy-licking and either full-face shields or goggles during cumshots that came anywhere near the face. To comply with that excessive regimen would drive the California-based adult industry out of business or out of state in very short order.
(The above editorial reflects only the opinions of the author, and does not necessarily reflect the views of AVN Media Network, its owners and staff.)