Assembly Health Committee To Consider Bill Requiring HIV Tests for Adult Film Actors
The Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday will consider a bill (AB 2798) sponsored by Assembly member Tim Leslie (R-Roseville) that would require adult film actors to be tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases within two weeks before production of a film begins, the Los Angeles Times reports. The bill also would prohibit producers from hiring actors who test positive for HIV or other STDs and would allow any performer who is infected with an STD as a result of participation in an adult film to sue for damages if a production company failed to comply with the terms of the legislation (Liu/Richardson, Los Angeles Times, 5/2). The proposal comes after Los Angeles County Public Health Director Jonathan Fielding on April 20 launched an investigation into the spread of HIV in the adult entertainment industry. Adult film actor Darren James last month tested positive for HIV, and 53 workers who may have had unprotected sex with James or his sex partners agreed to a voluntary work quarantine. Since then, two female actors who worked with James also have tested HIV-positive. About 12 companies agreed to a 60-day production moratorium until HIV testing of the actors is completed, industry experts said (California Healthline, 4/30). About 1,200 adult film actors undergo monthly testing for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, and many production companies require performers to show their test results before filming (California Healthline, 4/23). Current adult film industry regulation relies on an "expensive but advanced" test that "detects HIV quickly after infection," while the proposed bill would "permit cheaper tests that take longer to detect infections," the Times reports.
If a "crusading government takes advantage" of the recent HIV diagnoses of three adult film actors to "shut down the industry or mandate condoms," the adult film industry will "simply go underground," creating a serious public health problem, Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation Executive Director Sharon Mitchell writes in a New York Times opinion piece. Instead of mandating condom use, state and federal health departments, AIM and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration should create a "seal of approval" system to reward "companies that use safe workplace and health care practices," Mitchell writes. Making condom use "financially attractive" is the "only way that we will be able to further limit the risk of infection to sex film actors and the people they come in contact with in their private lives," Mitchell concludes (Mitchell, New York Times, 5/2).
NPR's "All Things Considered" on Friday reported on AIM. The segment includes comments from Mitchell, AIM Board Chair Ira Levine, AIDS Project Los Angeles Director of Programs Lee Klonsinski and adult film director Rob Spallone (Cohen, "All Things Considered," NPR, 4/30). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.