LOS ANGELES—Recent campaign finance disclosure reports show that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has already spent over $1.6 million on its efforts to pass Measure B, the so-called "Safer Sex" initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot in Los Angeles County, in addition to another estimated $2.5 million spent to pass a similar proposal at the City of Los Angeles—funds that could have been better spent combating HIV in underserved parts of the County according to the No on Government Waste Committee.
"It's astonishing to think of what $4 million could have been better spent on than this initiative in combating the real problem areas of HIV and healthcare," said James Lee, communications director for the No on Government Waste Committee. "That money could have paid for the entire state of the art testing program for the adult film industry for three years, for example."
The No on Government Waste Committee examined the most recent campaign disclosure forms filed by the Yes on B campaign and found that it had raised $1,643,467.20 to date with the vast majority of the money coming from a single donor: The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, with expenditures of $1,638,044.76.
"In comparison, we have been effectively outspent by a ratio of 14 to 1 and yet, voters, business groups and community organizations are flocking to urge 'No' votes because they see how ineffective and useless Measure B will be," Lee said. "With funding coming from just one source, voters have to ask tough questions about what other uses those funds could have been put to."
In addition to the $1.6 million already spent by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, that organization had previously spent an estimated $2.5 million to push a similar measure in the City of Los Angeles, as well as to qualify Measure B for the LA County ballot through paid petition signature gatherers.
Using the AHF's own calculations, the No on Government Waste Committee estimated that the $4 million spent by AHF could have also been used to:
• Build a community clinic in a primarily impoverished African-American neighborhood where the population of those at highest-risk for HIV infection lives, according to the Los Angeles County Dept. for Public Health. AHF currently only operates one healthcare center in a predominately African-American neighborhood, but operates three in predominately white, more affluent neighborhoods;
• Train 8,000 physicians in the provision of HIV/AIDS medical care;
• Support outreach in African-American and Spanish-language newspapers and media for an entire year to urge more testing for young, minority, gay males at highest-risk for infection;
• Pay for HIV testing of over 3,300 people every month for an ENTIRE year;
• Provide HIV treatment and care for 20,000 patients for an ENTIRE year;
• Buy and operate two mobile clinics offering free HIV testing in underserved minority communities, as well as offer primary health check-ups for the uninsured.
"As a non-profit organization dedicated to combating the scourge of AIDS and HIV infection, voters have to question AHF's obsession with porn when there are clearly so many more important and significant public health risks in our communities," Lee added. "Voters have to question the priorities of AHF when passage of Measure B would divert significant County public health resources away from real health hazards and send County employees to film sets to watch porn shoots, instead of into our communities where they belong."
According to the California Dept. of Public Health, from June 30, 2008 to June 30, 2011, there were 6,447 new cases of HIV reported in Los Angeles County, but only two were adult performers, neither of whom contracted the disease on-set. Since 2004, there have been no documented cases of HIV transmission on an adult entertainment set. In fact, with the industry's strict testing protocols—requiring testing every 14 and 28 days for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis—adult performers are the most tested workforce in the nation.
Measure B, funded and placed on the ballot by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, would require the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to license and permit adult movie productions in the county and require performers to wear condoms and other "barrier protections," and create an unworkable system of on-set inspections and enforcement by county personnel. The county estimates initial start-up costs for the program to be in excess of $300,000, but acknowledges that regardless of the level of compliance by the adult film industry, there would be significant cost to the Department of Public Health.
The No on Government Waste Committee is comprised of entertainment companies, local business organizations, community activists, adult entertainment performers and healthcare advocates who oppose Measure B's plan for creating an underfunded government inspection program diverting badly needed resources from local community clinics and underserved minority communities. For more information, please click here.