U.S. Regulators to Probe AIM Healthcare Foundation

Rhett Pardon
LOS ANGELES — Federal regulators are planning to investigate the AIM Healthcare Foundation for possible violations of patient confidentiality laws.

The Department of Health and Human Services, responding to a complaint waged by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), this week decided to open an investigation into the Los Angeles-area HIV testing clinic funded by and serving the adult film industry.

AIM Healthcare Foundation's Sharon Mitchell and Brooke Hunter both were unavailable for comment Friday afternoon.

The AHF has pressed the federal agency to look into the clinic's operations, pointing at its online database of patient info for porn producers and its refusal to share that data with Los Angeles Public Health officials.

AHF spokesman Ged Kenslea told XBIZ that his organization seeks clarity when it comes to the AIM Healthcare Foundation. "We continue to believe AIM is a fig leaf for the industry," he said.

Kenslea said the federal investigation will focus on alleged privacy breaches of clinic patients and adult film actors whose health information was routinely released to producers in the adult industry.

In its complaint filed earlier this year, AHF officials asserted AIM’s release of clinic patient data on HIV and STD infections via an online database violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other federal and state laws.

In its decision to investigate AHF’s complaint, federal regulators wrote: “Your allegation could reflect a violation of the general rules for impermissible uses and disclosures of protected health information at 45 C.F.R., Section 164.502 (a). ... Based on the facts that you have alleged we have decided to accept your case for investigation.”

Diane Duke, the Free Speech Coalition's executive director, denounced the move by regulators and told XBIZ that performer testing is an "essential tool in maintaining sexual health for performers and workers in our industry."

"This is just another example of AHF's self-serving attacks," she said. "The fact that AHF wants to take this tool away demonstrates that his concern for people who work in our industry is insincere and proves that Weinstein is doing nothing more than supporting his personal agenda.

"How can any legitimate AIDS group oppose testing? We are confident that AIM will prevail."