CHATSWORTH, Calif.—Representatives from the Pro-Health Community Care clinic held a meeting with industry members yesterday afternoon at the Radisson Hotel in Chatsworth in an effort to present its STI testing services to the adult industry.
Those present at the meeting were ATMLA's Mark Schechter, Immoral Productions' Dan Leal, LATATA consultant Shy Love, Talent Testing Service's Sixto Pacheco and male performer Rick Madrid.
Husband-and-wife team Carl and Joyce Thomas, proprietors of Pro-Health, presented attendees with what they believed to be a superior test to the Aptima HIV1 PCR-RNA test, the current industry standard.
Pacheco quickly interjected that comparing the current Aptima test to Pro-Health's offered fourth-generation HIV1/HIV2 combo antigen/antibody test is like apples and oranges and provided the science behind his objection to the industry using what the Thomas' were offering.
"I have a little bit of an issue with what you're telling me here on several fronts," Pacheco said. "The first one is, is when you say Aptima is a third-generation test versus a fourth-generation test, I think you're comparing apples to oranges. Aptima is a molecular test, fourth-generation HIV antigen/antibody is an EIA (enzyme immunoassays) test," similar to the old ELISA test the industry previously used. The industry moved to the PCR-DNA test from ELISA specifically because the detection window was shorter.
Without getting too scientific, the fourth-generation HIV1/HIV2 combo antigen/antibody test looks for the P24 capsid protein, a specific protein that shows up in HIV-positive individuals. However, the industry standard Aptima PCR-RNA test is molecular-based and is more accurate in diagnosing the HIV virus in a shorter infection window, usually before the P24 protein or HIV antibodies appear in an infected individual.
"If we look only at the comparison of fourth-generation P24 antibody/antigen versus HIV1 molecular test it has been proven over and over again that the viral response of the individual, or infectivity, does occur before the presence of that protein, the P24 protein," Pacheco asserted. "There are tons and tons of documentation relating to that."
Pacheco explained that when conducting HIV testing for a massive population that perhaps fourth-generation antibody/antigen testing would be the way to go, but that the adult performers are a specific population that needs a specific type of test that would register an acute HIV infection, and that any test that stretches that diagnostic window is inappropriate for the industry's needs.
In fact, the documentation that Pro-Health provided backs up Pacheco's statement. In the serological window for detection of HIV as part of a study published in 2011 in the Journal of Clinical Virology, the fourth-generation HIV antibody/antigen test detects HIV infection at 2.5-3 weeks—which falls outside the 14-day testing window that's now standard for the adult industry. According to this study, the PCR-RNA test could detect infection in as few as 10 days from exposure, making it a more sensitive test.
Love and Leal also mentioned the possibility of the industry adopting a rapid saliva-based test in addition to the 14-day Aptima HIV PCR-RNA blood test. Leal said that he was considering using the rapid test on his Immoral Productions sets.
Pro-Health said it approached Free Speech Coalition numerous times about offering the fourth-generation antibody/antigen test, but were rebuffed because it wasn't industry appropriate.
However, after listening to feedback from the industry members in the room, the organization is reconsidering its approach and will be looking into offering the Aptima HIV PCR-DNA test for the adult industry.