CHATSWORTH, Calif.—Several representatives from Europe's adult industry community have confirmed to AVN that reports in the adult media late last week concerning the number of European performers who've contracted syphilis were wildly inflated, and that there are actually between 20 and 30 cases.
All parties reported that the European talent pool has taken the necessary precautions to prevent further spread of the disease, as well as adopted new testing protocols requiring a more comprehensive test and a shorter time window between tests. In addition, all corroborated that production is on track to resume there beginning Sept. 3.
"I have the list of syphilis positive people on my desk, and we control the situation as much as it is possible," said Ezster, proprietor of leading Budapest-based talent agency Brill Babes. "There aren't new cases since beginning of August at all, only the 20 people we knew already about. All the male actors got the penicillin already and they are able to work with girls only who got the pre-treatment as well. Nobody else can work without double syphillis check (RPR + TPHA exams) and without injection [of penicillin]. The tests in the future will always include the double syphillis exams and everybody, even the healthy people, gets the penicillin injection till 3rd September."
To clarify, here is a brief explanation of the tests in question (assembled from online resources Rapid-Diagnostics.org and the U.S. National Library of Medicine): The RPR (rapid plasma reagin) test looks for an antigen released by the body when cells are damaged by the bacterium that causes syphilis, known as Treponema pallidum. The TPHA (Treponema pallidum hemagglutination assay) looks for an antigen released directly by the Treponema pallidum bacterium or an antibody to it produced after infection. Because these antibodies can remain in the bloodstream for years after a person has been infected, even if they've undergone treatment to erradicate the disease, a positive result from the TPHA does necessarily mean the person has an active infection. Likewise, a positive result from the RPR test does not necessarily mean the person has been infected by the Treponema pallidum bacterium. Therefore, using both tests in tandem provides a much more accurate confirmation of syphilis infection.
Cameron, a representative of Sandy's Models, another top Budapest agency, told AVN, "I think we have around 30 cases here in Budapest. We will restart work from the week of the 3rd of September, but all talent who has negative test must have one shot of penicillin to be sure if they have in their blood but the test still doesn't read."
He added, "We will accept STD test within 21 days in the future. [In the past] we have accepted it within 30 days. We will require two different kind of syphilis test, RPR and TPHA. From October, we only [accept] FULL STD test [including the double syphilis test]."
Cameron did concede, "I don't know how many cases are in Russia, Czech [Republic] and L.A. That's true we have heard about some syphilis cases in Russia in May and I know they didn't stop working, so it could come from them, but who knows now?"
Brill Babes' Ezster, however, said that the number of European syphilis cases being circulated in the media (as attributed to Rocco Siffredi) accounted for "the complete number of syphilis positive people [in] Russia, Czech and Hungary also including the private people [i.e. civilians] who did tests lately." Siffredi, she said, told her this after he saw that the higher numbers were being reported as strictly representing adult talent. Attempts by AVN to reach Siffredi by post time were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, one of the largest spectres very likely contributing to this worldwide outbreak is the not-so-secret porn star escorting sub-industry, something Sandy Models' Cameron said just had to be accepted as part of the terrain.
"Yes, almost all porn girls doing escort—you, me cannot do anything with it," Cameron contended. "And escort[ing] wouldn't be a problem if girls protected themself. We must use the best and trustful tests, that's all you can do. As talent are working everywhere around the world, all lab should have the same system I think."
Despite all of the new precautions being implemented, director/performer David Perry for one says he is wary of jumping back into shooting as soon as the moratorium is lifted.
"You never know what people are doing," Perry told AVN. "I have a wife, I have a kid, so ... I don't want to say I'm an angel, but most of my time I'm at home. You don't know what people are doing by night and all that things, so for me, I'm not sure I'm going to start to perform again from the 3rd of September."
Image: The king and queen above Budapest.