LOS ANGELES—What's great about AHF's annual receipt of tens of millions of dollars in drug company donations and government and foundation grants is that it can afford to take its losing court cases as high up the legal ladder as they're allowed to go.
Case in point: AHF's intention to appeal to the California Supreme Court last week's rejection by a California Appeals Court panel of AHF's petition to force L.A. County Director of Public Health Dr. Jonathan Fielding and his department to declare filming adult movies that don't use condoms and other "barrier protections" to be the sources of "an acknowledged epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases."
In a press release made public today, AHF continues to make claims about STD infection rates in the adult performer community that have been thoroughly debunked by Johns Hopkins University Prof. Lawrence S. Mayer, citing as its most recent example the case of Derrick Burts, who claims to have contracted HIV on the (all-condom) set of a gay adult movie in Florida—though questions continue to remain as to whether Burts may actually have contracted his illness while working as an escort.
AHF first filed its petition in June of 2009, shortly after the person now known as "Patient Zero"—a sometime adult actress attempting to return to the profession after a hiatus—tested positive for HIV at the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM), but who nonetheless managed to work in one adult scene even though her health status was then officially unknown. What is known is that the performer did not contract her HIV infection on an adult set, and did not spread the infection to any other performers; hence, AHF's characterization in the press release of her infection as an "outbreak," and the repetition of the debunked Los Angeles Times claim that "as many as 22 porn performers may have tested positive [for HIV] in the previous five years"—a claim the Times itself retracted—merely add to the organization's history of exaggerations and promotion of unverified data.
"The fact that the Los Angeles Department of Public Health is aware of the ongoing pervasive sexually transmitted disease crisis in LA’s pornography industry is well documented," the AHF press release states. "DPH has cited numerous figures confirming an STD epidemic among performers in adult films, including the 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]
Of course, as Dr. Mayer pointed out, the Department of Public Health has no basis upon which to state that adult performers are 10 or even 100 times more likely to have an STD than the typical L.A. resident for the simple reason that the overwhelming majority of citizens have never in their lives been tested for an STD, while adult performers are tested 12 or more times per year—and as Dr. Mayer further pointed out, at least some of DPH's figures are based on a performer having retested one or even twice for the same infection. Hence, to call STD rates in the adult industry a "crisis" is simply more AHF media hype.
"We will vigorously pursue this legal avenue with the California Supreme Court in order to try to compel L.A. County Health officials to safeguard the health and wellbeing of those working in the adult film industry in California," AHF president Michael Weinstein stated in the press release. "As an HIV and STD medical provider, it is our obligation to continue to pursue action on this issue, which goes beyond the recent HIV outbreaks and includes an epidemic of thousands of STD cases in the porn industry annually—an epidemic virtually ignored by the County Department of Public Health. County officials and porn producers should know we will not stop our efforts to protect the public health and will continue to fight the STD epidemic in the adult film industry." [Emphasis added]
We can't help but wonder: Does Lifestyle Condoms donate an extra $10,000 to AHF every time Weinstein uses the word "epidemic" in connection with the adult industry?
The full press release can be found here.
(Pictured: File photos of AHF President Michael Weinstein and attorney F. Brian Chase)