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Bill targets STDs in porn industry

Bill targets STDs in porn industry

California assemblyman Tim Leslie, a Republican, has introduced a bill that would require all pornographic film actors to be tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases two weeks before appearing in an adult film and would prohibit film producers from hiring actors with any STD, the Los Angeles Times reports. Leslie's bill also would allow any performer infected with an STD on the set of an adult film to sue for damages if the company failed to comply with the ban on hiring actors who have any STD. "There has been all these outbreaks, people spreading diseases," Leslie told the Times. "These infections can reach any of us. What we're trying to do is protect the public." The bill was introduced in the wake of an HIV scare in the California-based adult film industry in which one actor and two of his on-screen sex partners have tested positive for HIV. More than a dozen straight porn companies have stopped filming until early June so that any performers possibly exposed to the virus can be tested; the shutdown does not affect gay adult films, sources tell Advocate.com, because most gay film companies require condoms for anal sex scenes. But producers of gay porn films told the Times that an estimated 30% to 50% of gay adult actors are HIV-positive and therefore would be barred from working under Leslie's bill, even if they used condoms on the sets of the films. The bill, which will be read Tuesday by the assembly health committee, drew criticism from adult film industry representatives and public health advocates. Jonathan Fielding, director of public health for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, says that because the bill doesn't require condom use on adult film sets, it doesn't ensure that STDs won't be transmitted. He also said it would be possible for adult film performers to contract an STD during the 14-day window after testing and pass it along to other performers. Former porn actress Sharon Mitchell, who now serves as executive director of the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation, which conducts monthly HIV and STD screenings for about 1,200 porn actors, told the Times the bill is "taking a step back, medically. It's just not well-thought-out."

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