Well, AIDS Healthcare Foundation is at it again, and what we would like to know is:
WHY are California taxpayers expected to throw more money at an appeal to the State Supreme Court over a non-issue that AHF has blown up to “epidemic” proportions? Especially at a time when the state budget is being slashed for much-needed programs, including state and local STI programs?
Yesterday, taxpayer supported “nonprofit” AHF announced that it will “vigorously pursue” an appeal on a recently dismissed lawsuit; filed in 2009, the suit seeks to have the courts compel Los Angeles County Public Health (LACPH) officials to take action against the “spread” of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the adult performer population. AHF claims it feels STI rates for adult performers represent a public health threat and they are willing to go to the State Supreme Court to prove it.
The action by AHF follows last week’s judgment by California Appeals Court Justices Richard D. Aldrich, Joan D. Klein and Patti S. Kitching. In his written opinion, Justice Aldrich said specifically that AHF’s claims that LA County is obligated to take action in order to stop AHF’s purported “epidemic” are patently false. Moreover, it is unlikely that any court can grant AHF’s demands because, as it says in the current ruling, the court “cannot compel another branch of government to exercise its discretion in any manner” nor “compel [LA County] to implement [AHF’s] agenda.”
Of course, AHF’s agenda is enforcing mandatory condoms and other barrier protection in the adult industry – because apparently there are not enough legitimate issues facing those affected with HIV/AIDS or populations at risk for HIV infection. Apparently, all of AHF’s attention can now be focused on policing the adult performer population numbering, perhaps, 1,500 people.
Never mind that the adult production industry has successfully self-regulated the safety of its performers with monthly STI testing since 1998. The testing protocol instated by the now-defunct Adult Industry Medical Healthcare (AIM) clinic efficiently prevented HIV-positive individuals from entering the business, and also effectively limited the spread of infection when active performers tested positive in 2004, 2009 and 2010. AIM also served the sexual health needs of other high-risk populations not involved in adult production.
Never mind that another lawsuit, and numerous complaints filed by AHF were instrumental in contributing to the “financial hardships” that finally destroyed AIM.
Never mind that statistical information on STI rates for adult performers, presented by public health officials, has been described as inaccurate and “without basis in science” in a report commissioned by FSC, written by prominent epidemiologist and biostatistician Dr. Lawrence Mayer. That report was entered into record at the June 7 Cal/OSHA meeting, attended by scores of adult performers that wanted their voices heard in a regulatory process that will impact them the most. And never mind that AHF - not performers – has filed workplace safety violation complaints against adult production companies and agents, forcing Cal/OSHA into action.
Never mind that AHF keeps on quoting what they now must know to be inaccurate information; as in its press release, that “as many as 22 porn performers have tested positive in the last five years,” when in fact, the LA Times published that health officials retracted their findings concerning the number of performers that tested positive for HIV. And according to Dr. Mayer’s report, the stats that AHF quotes (as analyzed by LA County Public Health) on Chlamydia and gonorrhea in the performer population ALSO are wildly inaccurate.
And while AHF is busy playing nanny to adult industry performers and the public at large, did you know that a recent study shows that the highest rate of increase in HIV infection in the nation is affecting Asians and Pacific Islanders? When was the last time that we saw an Asian on an AHF billboard, or AHF launching media outreach to that community?
Did you know that HIV rates for gay and bisexual men in California may have been dropping steadily since the mid-2000s, and this may be due to improved treatments for HIV? AHF provides valuable resources for those living with HIV and should continue to do so – at the same time, taking responsibility for the education of at-risk populations about safe sex. But adult performers – who test 12 times a year or more – are making an informed choice about their health and the work they do; how many average citizens are tested for STIs, even just once?
Citizens of Sacramento – where legislators work every day to try and serve the public’s interests while dealing with never-ending debates over how to fix the budget – did you know that funding cuts to local STI programs in Sacramento have resulted in the capitol now having the fifth largest incidence of syphilis in the state? That’s up from NO reported cases of syphilis in the early 2000s, and due to lack of funding for outreach staffing.
Look, we all know that California is facing a budget shortfall of up to $23 BILLION dollars for 2012. So far, state funding has been slashed to important programs for firefighters, courts, prisons, schools, state parks and the elderly, just to name a few.
Do the state of California, Los Angeles County or even AHF’s contributors need to spend one more red cent on funding or defending against AHF’s impractical campaign to enforce condom use on adult production sets? For that matter, do state officials (at the behest of AHF) want to encourage the legal, revenue-generating adult production industry to pull up stakes and move out of California, to places where production safety and standards will be virtually impossible to enforce?
FSC has been working with Cal/OSHA, industry stakeholders, compliance experts and attorneys to develop industry-appropriate regulations. As the industry trade association in the U.S., our agenda is to promote and protect the well-being of the adult industry community and businesses.
We’ll leave it to you to figure out what AHF’s agenda is, and how much it’s costing taxpayers. – jc