Health officials may force condom use in adult films
April 21 2004 12:00 AM ET
California and Los Angeles County health officials say they plan to force condom use during sex scenes in adult films after two actors in the straight porn industry tested positive for HIV infection last week, the Los Angeles Times reports. Porn actor Darren James and one of his on-screen sex partners, actress Lara Roxx, tested positive for HIV infection last week, which lead to an industry-wide scare that has temporarily shut down film production at most adult film companies. At least 45 other porn actors and actresses have been identified as having been possibly exposed to the virus by either James or Roxx or their subsequent on-screen sex partners and have agreed to stop working until they learn if they have been infected. Preliminary results that have yet to be confirmed by a second HIV test show that another of the actresses who had sex with James may be infected, film producer Jill Kelly told the Times.
The current HIV scare does not extend to the gay side of the porn industry and production of gay adult movies has not been affected, legendary porn director Chi Chi LaRue told Advocate.com on Friday. She says policies at virtually all gay adult film companies--except those that specialize in condomless or "barebacking" films--require condom use for anal sex to prevent HIV transmissions between film actors.
California and Los Angeles County health officials on Monday said existing health and employment safety regulations give them the authority to require adult film actors and actresses to use condoms during filming. Officials with the state Division of Occupational Health and Safety's Cal/OSHA program also could begin safety inspections of porn companies as early as this week. Cal/OSHA officials say they plan to enforce regulations that require employers to have written policies on reducing workplace hazards and require the use of universal precautions for workers who may come into contact with pathogens in blood and other bodily fluids. These policies may not only require condom usage during oral, vaginal, and anal sex scenes in porn films, but also could prevent actors and actresses from all direct contact with semen or vaginal fluid, some legal experts say. In addition to the restrictions, the safety regulations could make disease testing, vaccinations, and medical care costs associated with workplace exposure to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases the responsibility of the adult film companies, says Peter Kerndt of the sexually transmitted disease program for the Los Angeles County Department of Health.
Attorneys for adult film companies are questioning whether Cal/OSHA's regulations are applicable to adult movie productions, where they argue the actors are independent contractors and not company employees. They also say it's likely that if Cal/OSHA's regulations can be used to require condom use and other safety precautions that adult film companies will simply move out of California to other states without such requirements.
Gay adult film producer and director Tony Alizzi of MSR Videos told Advocate.com it is possible that severe Cal/OSHA restrictions could "drive the business out of California." He also says that complying with requirements for condom use during filming of oral sex scenes "would become a very difficult--almost impossible--situation to comply with. Oral sex is a very strong element in gay videos, and it would be hard to eroticize oral sex when someone is wearing a condom."
Alizzi stresses, however, that the gay porn industry as a whole has emphasized safer sex since the early days of the AIDS pandemic. "I practice and promote safer sex in my films," he told Advocate.com. "I treat all of the models who perform in my films as though they were all positive so that they can be protected." That means condoms for all anal sex scenes and no contact between semen and the mouths or anuses of the performers, he explains. "We want the best of health for our models and our viewers, who sometimes use adult films not only for stimulation but also for educational purposes."
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