LOS ANGELES—The male adult performer whose recent HIV infection led to a temporary cessation of production by many adult entertainment studios while other potentially infected individuals were tested and quarantined, spoke out about the experience to the Los Angeles Times Tuesday.
In the interview, Derrick Burts, 24, who performed in gay production as Cameron Reid and straight productions as Derek Chambers, was extremely critical of his experience with the AIM Healthcare clinic, despite the fact that it was AIM's testing procedures that caught the infection and whose immediate actions prevented any further infections.
According to the article, Burts said he was dissatisfied with the care he got from the AIM Healthcare clinic following his diagnosis and the quarantine process. He also said he was unaware of the potential risks associated with performing in sexually explicit scenes in the industry.
"Looking back, he said he wishes he had known more about the risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases in the industry," the Times reported.
"Making $10,000 or $15,000 for porn isn't worth your life," Burts is quoted as saying. "Performers need to be educated."
The article also contains some serious allegations by Burts against AIM, including that he was told by clinic staff "when he returned to the clinic Oct. 23 to review the second test results" that he contracted the HIV infection from another performer, and not from outside the industry, as AIM stated on its website in November.
"It has been established that Patient Zeta acquired the virus through private, personal activity and there was no transmission of the HIV virus from Patient Zeta to anyone else," the clinic reported on Nov. 5.
"That's completely false," Burts told the Times Tuesday. "There is no possible way. The only person I had sex with in my personal life was my girlfriend."
Burts further alleges that "he asked [AIM] who the performer was and clinic staff told him they could not reveal the performer's name or gender due to patient confidentiality."
He also told the Times that he may have contracted "the disease during a gay porn shoot in Florida. He said the performers used condoms during intercourse but not during oral sex."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states on its website that while possible, contracting HIV through oral sex is less common than through other modes of transmission, such as vaginal and anal sex.
"There have been a few cases of HIV transmission from performing oral sex on a person infected with HIV," states the CDC. "While no one knows exactly what the degree of risk is, evidence suggests that the risk is less than that of unprotected anal or vaginal sex."
Burts told the Times he also was dissatisfied with the care he recived from AIM following his diagnosis and the quarantine process.
"Before he left the clinic Oct. 23, Burts said clinic staff put him in touch with a doctor affiliated with the clinic and promised to arrange for his follow-up care," the Times reported. "Burts said no one followed up, and he felt neglected."
"AIM promised they would help me set up a doctor and get treatment," he told the paper. "They did none of that."
He said that even though clinic staff told him not to contact the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the same group that has been aggressively campaigning to have the mandatory use of condoms imposed upon the industry, he went there anyway on Nov. 24. He said he saw a doctor but did not tell anyone while he was there that he was Patient Zeta.
"Pleased with the care he received at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Burts contacted the group's leaders last week, identified himself as Patient Zeta and said he wanted to speak out on their behalf and in favor of enforcing mandatory condom use in porn productions," reported the Times. "Foundation officials have scheduled a news conference with Burts for 10 a.m. Wednesday."
AVN has yet to speak with AIM officials, but did receive the following statement from Free Speech Coalition Executive Director Diane Duke, who is currently at the ICANN meeting in Cartagena, Columbia.
"The Free Speech Coalition is completely confident that the information released by AIM concerning the Patient Zeta is true and accurate," Duke commented. "Any attempt by AHF to state information to the contrary is not only inflammatory, but also consistent with its pattern of hostility toward AIM and the adult entertainment industry’s successful implementation of industry performer health protocols."
Michael Weinstein, President, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, has apparently issued a statement regarding Burts, according to one website.
“We are extremely glad to know that Derrick has been linked to care and is receiving appropriate medical care for his HIV infection through AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a government-funded non-profit health care provider,” he is quoted as saying. “However, we are astounded that the multi-billion dollar adult film industry and its fig leaf of a clinic could not even get it together six weeks after his first positive HIV test to link him to appropriate follow up medical care and treatment, and that taxpayers-rather than the adult film industry-will be left holding the bill.”