opinion

St. James Infirmary Latest Community-Based Healthcare Group To Oppose Measure B Says No On Governmen

Diane Duke

Medical and Social Service Provider Opposes Effort to Take Away Performer Choice

The overwhelming outpouring of opposition to Measure B, the so-called “Safer Sex” initiative on the Nov. 6th ballot, continued with the announcement by St. James Infirmary, a San Francisco-based community medical and social services provider, to oppose the initiative, joining every major newspaper, political parties, gay, lesbian and women’s groups, 44 chambers of commerce and business groups in Los Angeles County, said the No on Government Waste Committee.

“There is virtually no part of Los Angeles County’s political, business and healthcare life that has not come forward to oppose Measure B,” said James Lee, communications director for the No on Government Waste Committee. “We are deeply gratified to have the support and endorsement of St. James Infirmary, a terrific institution that has been dedicated to providing healthcare and social services to sex workers and fighting the scourge of HIV.”

St. James Infirmary annually provides 8,000 clinic and venue based services to more than 2,000 sex workers and their families. These services include medical and holistic care, testing services, peer counseling, needle distribution and recovery, outreach and group harm reduction workshops, hot meals to eat and food to take home, clothes, internships and capacity and leadership development.

“The motivations behind pushing for compulsory use of condoms in porn may be well intended, but the regulation of sex workers sexual health practices by outside agencies ultimately may result in unintended negative outcomes,” said Stephny Ashley, programs director for St. James Infirmary. “The self-regulating testing practices of the L.A. porn industry have been effective in keeping HIV prevalence at rates comparable to that of the general population since 2006.”

“We at St James Infirmary believe first and foremost in an individual’s right to make their own reproductive and sexual health choices, without having those choices regulated by politicians, police, religious or non-profit organizations. Sex workers are the most qualified to make decisions about how to best institute safer working conditions within their job environments, and only with their expertise should regulations be made,” Ashley added.

Along with the recent endorsements against Measure B by the Los Angeles County Federation of Republican Women, Log Cabin Republicans of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Republican and Libertarian Parties, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, six other local newspapers, 44 other local area chambers of commerce and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, the largest business group in the San Fernando Valley, those standing in opposition to Measure B dwarfs the limited support proponents have been able to muster.

“Condoms are a vital part of reducing sexual health risk, and it should be every individual’s right to use them.  Unfortunately, Measure B does not address this issue,” Ashley said. “If Measure B passes, how soon before politicians, lawmakers and those who have no business in our bedrooms, barge in with further laws regulating our sexuality and personal freedoms?”

Measure B, funded and placed on the ballot by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, would require the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to license and permit adult movie productions in the county and require performers to wear condoms and create an unworkable system of on-set inspections and enforcement by county personnel. The county estimates initial start-up costs for the program to be in excess of $300,000, but acknowledges that regardless of the level of compliance by the adult film industry, there would be significant cost to the Department of Public Health.

According to the California Dept. of Public Health, from June 30, 2008 to June 30, 2011, there were 6,447 new cases of HIV reported in Los Angeles County, but only two were adult performers who did not contract the disease on-set. Since 2004, there have been no documented cases of HIV transmission on an adult entertainment set.  In fact, with the industry’s strict testing protocols – requiring testing at least every 28 days for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis – adult performers are the most tested workforce in the nation.

No on Government Waste Committee

The Committee is comprised of entertainment companies, local business organizations, community activists, adult entertainment performers and healthcare advocates who oppose Measure B’s plan for creating an underfunded government inspection program diverting badly needed resources from local community clinics and underserved minority communities. For more information, please visit: www.noongovernmentwaste.com.

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