Condoms in porn
by Seth Hemmelgarn
Three porn actors have tested positive for HIV in recent weeks as a bill that would mandate condom use in the industry heads toward the governor, keeping alive debate over whether condoms should be mandatory.
As numerous media outlets have reported, two of the performers have worked with San Francisco's Kink.com. The actress known as Cameron Bay performed at Kink July 31, after testing negative July 27. After another screening August 20, she revealed that she had tested positive.
In a message on Twitter posted September 3, the actor known as Rod Daily, who's been in a relationship with Bay, said, "Drumroll please!! I'm 32 years old and I'm HIV positive. Acute HIV, which means I recently was infected."
Friday, September 6, it was announced that another performer had tested positive for HIV. That person apparently hasn't publicly come forward.
On September 12, state lawmakers are expected to vote on Assembly Bill 640, which would require condom use for commercially filmed sexual acts. Assemblyman Isadore Hall III (D-Los Angeles) originally made the proposal via AB 332, but eventually amended his AB 640 to include the language. The full Senate is expected to vote on the latter bill and then send it to the Assembly for a vote by the end of Thursday. It would then go to Governor Jerry Brown. If the governor signs the bill, it would take effect immediately.
[Update Friday, September 13]: AB 640 rested in the Senate Rules Committee as this year's Senate session closed just after midnight Friday and won't make it to the governor, the Free Speech Coalition, the national trade organization for adult entertainers, announced Friday.
“Thankfully, science won over scare tactics,” Diane Duke, the coalition's CEO, said in a statement. “Three performers did test positive for HIV in the past month, but none of them contracted it on an adult set. Politicians tried to use concern about HIV to push through a mandate opposed by both performers and producers. ”
Terry Schanz, Hall's chief of staff, didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon [End update].
Peter Acworth, Kink.com's founder, is critical of Hall's proposal. Referring to the industry in general, Acworth said, "There hasn't been an on-set transmission of HIV since 2004, so it seems to me the testing approach works."
Kink already mandates condoms for its gay porn. Acworth said performers "on the straight side of the industry" have to get tested, with negative results, every 28 days. He said Daily appeared only in gay and transsexual porn when working with Kink and used condoms in his scenes.
"How would mandatory condoms on the straight side have affected either case? It wasn't transmitted on set," said Acworth. He said that among other concerns, "My fear about making condoms mandatory on the straight side would be it might force the productions underground."
The San Francisco Chronicle quoted Acworth as saying, "The strong indication is that Rod contracted it and transmitted it" to Bay.
In his interview with the Bay Area Reporter , Acworth said, "I shouldn't speculate as to how the two of them became infected. I just don't know."
However, Acworth said, "Everybody [Bay] performed with has since tested negative several times. ... She didn't get it on set," and "there hasn't been any on-set transmission from either of them."
Terry Schanz, Hall's chief of staff, was dismissive of Acworth's stance.
"It doesn't matter" whether the transmission occurred on the set, said Schanz.
"The industry's own protocols don't work," he said, noting that despite Bay adhering to the testing rules, she tested positive.
"These individuals, their job is to potentially expose themselves to any number of infections on a daily basis, depending on the number of sexual partners they work with," said Schanz. He added that with HIV, among other concerns, "it can take up to three months for HIV antibodies to show up in a test.
"The only way you'll ever be able to prevent the spread of HIV or other STDs is by using a condom and testing," added Schanz.
On August 26, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has supported Hall's condoms proposal, filed a notice of alleged safety or health hazards against Kink.com and Kink Studios with the California Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
"We have reason to believe that on [July 31] adult film employees were exposed to bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious materials in the media film title Public Disgrace: Big Titted Reality TV Star Ass Fucked in Public," AHF's complaint says. The filing says that Bay tested positive for HIV as early as August 19 and during the making of the film, she "engaged in acts considered high-risk for the transmission of HIV, including multiple sex partners and acts resulting in trauma to vaginal, oral, and anal mucosa. Additionally, a large group estimated at 10-12 individuals, including production staff, are likely to have been exposed."
Asked about AHF's complaint, Cal-OSHA spokesman Peter Melton told the B.A.R., "There is an ongoing investigation at Kink Films, but because of the nature of the investigation, that's really all the detail I can provide" until the review is finished.
"Once the investigation is complete, we can share copies of any enforcement actions, such as citations, if there are any taken," said Melton.
Bay and Daily couldn't be reached for comment for this story.
Acworth said, "Neither of them would be able to perform on the straight side of the industry," but he also praised them.
"It must have taken a lot of courage for both Rod and Cameron to come out publicly in the way they did," he said, adding that if it hadn't been for their "selfless act," following up with other actors "would have been a much more complicated process."