LOS ANGELES — Thanks to the diligent work of AIM founder Dr. Sharon Mitchell, the Los Angeles County Department of Health has now admitted that it has no idea how many of the HIV-positive (HIV+) individuals reported to it after testing by AIM were actually adult performers.
"We have no information on these individuals," Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the L.A. County health officer told reporters for the L.A. Times. "All we have is the number from AIM."
From the beginning, Mitchell has claimed that the numbers cited in previous L.A. Times stories were wrong, and that in fact, the only performers to have been infected by HIV were the ones previously identified: Darren James, Lara Roxx, Meriesa Arroyo, Jessica Dee, an unnamed transsexual performer — all back in 2004 — and the actress whose case sparked the recent controversy, who received her results on June 6.
"Here's the bottom line: We're an HIV testing center," Mitchell told L.A. Times reporters Kimi Yoshino and Rong-Gong Lin II. "We don't just test the adult entertainment industry. We have a lot of people who come who want testing from the general public."
It was those tested non-performers which accounted for the inflated number of claimed HIV cases in the adult industry — and even the reported numbers have now been revamped: The Health Department now claims that AIM had reported 18, not 16, HIV+ tests from its clinic — but again, none new in the adult performer community except the woman identified last week.
Also interesting: "Fielding said Tuesday that the county did little investigation of any of the post-2004 cases and have few details about the individuals, their partners or how they may have been infected," according to the L.A. Times story. Yet Fielding and others — notably Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which held a rally outside Hustler Hollywood for a law requiring condom use in XXX on Monday evening — have claimed that the AIM testing protocols are insufficiently effective in preventing HIV transmission within the heterosexual adult acting community.
Fielding claims that his department lacks sufficient information to "delve deeply" into the industry HIV cases; therefore, how Fielding could reach this conclusion without doing a full investigation of the circumstances of the Darren James case is unclear, and gives credence to the suspicions of knowledgeable adult industry members — notably director/producer Ernest Greene — that the recent scare stories that have been all over Los Angeles media (and indeed much of the rest of the country) were motivated by political rather than health considerations.
Still, Fielding could not resist bashing AIM further in the Times' most recent story:
"Fielding said the rate of sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea among adult performers is high," the Times story reported, "and that any cases of HIV are to be taken seriously."
In fact, Mitchell put the lie to claims that STDs are widespread in the adult acting community when she refuted an L.A. Times Magazine story from 2003, "See No Evil," by P.J. Hufstutter, resulting in an extensive analysis of Hufstutter's claims.
"is what's being done better than nothing? Absolutely," Fielding told the Times, referring to the industry's testing regimen. "Is it what should be done and what is required in today's world of occupational safety? Absolutely not. . . . To have, in 2009, an occupational hazard that's preventable and subjects individuals to life-threatening diseases is outrageous."
Mitchell, on the other hand, has stated that "AIM follows to the letter all required protocols and reporting structures... AIM is told to whom it is to report positive results, and, as in the current situation, follows such guidance completely."
It is believed that both Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Colin Hamblin, AIM's medical consultant, will be filing a defamation suit against officials who have made false statements about AIM's procedures and about Mitchell personally.