ACLU of Southern California Sends Letter Criticizing Los Angeles County DHS for Obtaining Adult Film Actors’ Medical Records
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California on Thursday sent a letter to officials of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services criticizing their obtaining of the medical records for more than 50 actors on the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation quarantine list, the Los Angeles Times reports. "In our opinion, this order was in violation of California and federal law protecting the privacy of medical records," the letter stated (Liu/Richardson, Los Angeles Times, 4/30). County DHS officials last week ordered the foundation to provide the legal names, contact information and four months of HIV tests results for adult performers who may have been exposed to HIV. The records were obtained as part of an investigation launched last week by county Public Health Director Jonathan Fielding after adult film actor Darren James tested positive for HIV earlier this month (California Healthline, 4/23). Since James tested positive, about 65 workers who may have had unprotected sex with James or his sex partners have agreed to a voluntary work quarantine, the New York Times reports (Madigan, New York Times, 4/30). Actress Lara Roxx, who worked with James on at least one movie, also tested positive. About 12 companies have agreed to a 60-day production moratorium until HIV testing is completed, industry experts said. The records were used to contact the actors and anyone outside of the industry with whom they may have had sex. AIM earlier this month posted on its Web site the stage names of individuals who potentially had been exposed to James, Roxx or one of the actors' onscreen sex partners (California Healthline, 4/23). The letter could lead to a lawsuit against Los Angeles County, according to the Los Angeles Times.
County DHS officials said their request for the records was legal under state statutes on the prevention of communicable diseases, which give county health directors "broad powers" during an outbreak of diseases such as HIV, according to the Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles Times, 4/30). An attorney for AIM Executive Director Sharon Mitchell said that county DHS officials could have sought a subpoena for all of AIM's medical records had she not complied in sending the requested records, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports (AP/Contra Costa Times, 4/30). However, ACLU/SC and Being Alive Los Angeles -- a group of 800 people living with HIV or AIDS -- said that county DHS officials violated state confidentiality laws by obtaining the records without a subpoena. "The government needs to make a showing that the breach of confidentiality is warranted and the way to do that is by going through the court," ACLU/SC Managing Attorney Peter Eliasberg said, adding that such a breach in confidentiality could deter people from being tested for HIV in the future. Fielding said he had not seen the letter and could not comment on the allegations (AP/Contra Costa Times, 4/30).
Health care advocates for the adult entertainment industry on Thursday announced that a third adult film actor had tested HIV-positive (Los Angeles Times, 4/30). About 65 workers who may have had unprotected sex with James or his sex partners have agreed to a voluntary work quarantine. Mitchell did not identify the woman who tested positive but confirmed a report from Adult Video News that her stage name is Jessica Dee and said that she was involved in the filming of a sex scene with James on March 23, according to the New York Times (New York Times, 4/30). However, no additional performers will be added to the quarantine list because all of Dee's sex partners are already on the list, Mitchell said (Los Angeles Times, 4/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.