AHF to Dr. Fielding: Shut Down Non-Condom Porn Sets NOW

LA Weekly Ad and Online Campaign Launches Today; Supporters Asked to Contact Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Director of LA’s Dept. of Public Health, Urge Him to “Enforce Condom Use in Porn NOW!”

“What Else Are You Waiting For to Protect the Public’s Health?” Asks AHF

By: AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Los Angeles, CA – December 23, 2010
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today launched an advertising and online e-advocacy campaign aimed at urging Dr. Jonathan Fielding, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Los Angeles Department of Public Health, to shut down Los Angeles-area adult film shoots that do not use condoms. An ad, appearing in today’s LA Weekly, lists the organizations that have come out in support of mandatory condom use in porn, including: Los Angeles Times, American Medical Association, American Public Health Association and the California STD Controllers Association. The ad then poses the question to Dr. Fielding: “What else are you waiting for to protect the public’s health?” and directs viewers to call Dr. Fielding at his office (213) 240-8117 or to go to www.aidshealth.org to send an e-letter. In conjunction with the ad, AHF has also launched an online advocacy campaign asking the Foundation’s tens of thousands of e-community members to contact Dr. Fielding.

“AHF calls on Dr. Fielding to join the growing chorus of thought leaders and health organizations who support mandatory condom use in adult films, and shut down all non-condom porn shoots in the County,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Unfortunately, despite clear regulatory requirements and actions taken by public officials, the adult film industry remains convinced it is above the law and continues to place its own interests above the health of performers. Dr. Fielding and County Public Health have done little to address the fact that the health and safety of adult film workers are being placed in jeopardy on film sets throughout Los Angeles County every day. At this point, inaction on the part of the County can only be seen as disregard for the lives of the thousands of young people who work in the industry as well as the health of the public at large.”

Earlier this month, a motion introduced by L.A. City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl directed the City Attorney to report back in 45 days “to explain the mechanisms necessary to enable the City’s film permit process to require workplace safety in the production of all adult films.” The motion concludes: “The producers of adult films are required by California Code of Regulations Title 8, Section 5903 et seq. to employ barrier protection, including without limitation condoms, to shield performers from contact with potentially infectious material during the production of adult films. I THEREFORE MOVE that the City Council request the City Attorney to report back within 45 days to explain the mechanisms necessary to enable the City’s film permit process to require workplace safety in the production of all adult films.”

That action came on the heels of explosive news that L.A. health officials closed the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM)—a Sherman Oaks clinic funded by and serving the adult film industry—after California state officials denied AIM a community clinic license. The facility had been operating without a proper license for over a decade. AHF had called for County health officials to shut down the clinic after Derrick Burts, a 24 year-old adult film performer who tested HIV-positive on October 9th spoke out regarding the poor treatment he received at AIM. Burts, who became known as the industry’s ‘Patient Zeta’ after the news first broke, spoke about the harsh treatment, neglect and indifference he experienced from AIM officials after his diagnosis, and he also championed the use of condoms in all adult film productions to prevent STD and HIV transmission among performers.

STDs in the Industry in Los Angeles County
Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health is aware of an ongoing and pervasive sexually transmitted disease crisis in LA’s pornography industry, a fact that is well documented. 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.

According to figures cited by DPH, there were 2,013 documented cases of Chlamydia among LA porn performers between 2003 and 2007. In the same period, 965 cases of gonorrhea were documented. Many performers suffer multiple infections. In the period April 2004 to March 2008 there have been 2,847 STD infections diagnosed among 1,884 performers in the hardcore industry in LA County. DPH attributes the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in the porn industry to a lack of protective equipment for partners, including condoms. The agency recommends condoms be used during production, but has never taken steps to ensure their use, or to protect the performers who are essentially required to endanger their health in order to remain employed.

“This is not just about one industry, but about our entire community, as the spread of disease among adult film performers endangers themselves as well as their sexual partners in and outside the industry,” added AHF’s Weinstein. “Los Angeles County Public Health officials cannot keep passing the buck on this by playing ping pong on this with the state and the industry itself. That is why we are calling on Dr. Fielding to take action now to protect adult film industry workers and the public at large by shutting down all non-condom porn sets immediately.”

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