L.A. Times Column Spotlights Mandatory Condom Use Controversy

Bob Johnson

LOS ANGELES — A health column in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times focused on the adult industry’s ongoing mandatory condom use controversy.

The story spotlighted the two regulatory initiatives aimed at porn producers and how county officials and the adult industry itself might deal with the measures if enforced.

It also highlighted the difficulties in proper testing procedures and how government restrictions could force the porn business out of L.A. if condom use was made mandatory — hurting both the producers and the local economy.

The article reads in part, “Still, no one is sure how bad the health crisis is in the industry, or if there even is a crisis. You could go blind trying to find undisputed statistics on STDs among performers. One study by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health placed the incidence of gonorrhea in the industry at 60 times that of all county residents and 18 times that of the county population aged 18 to 29, but those estimates have been attacked as "fatally flawed" by Dr. Lawrence Mayer, a consulting epidemiologist for the industry who is on the faculty at Johns Hopkins medical school.

“Mayer observes that the county couldn't say how many performers were in the industry or how many cases it counted were reinfection suffered by the same individuals, which made its analysis "not only inaccurate, but also misleading and inflammatory."

Comments from AIDS Healthcare Foundation President (AHF) Michael Weinstein, Free Speech Coalition executive director Diane Duke, Cal/OSHA, and veteran performer Nina Hartley illustrated each side’s concern over the matter.

A referendum on mandatory condom use is being proposed by the AHF for next June’s L.A. city ballot.

Duke said that to escape the rules producers would leave California, heading underground or offshore that would result in loss of jobs and the unraveling of the industry's self-regulatory program, which requires monthly health tests of all working performers and provides a website through which producers can determine if prospective cast members have tested negative for HIV and other STDs.

The column also spoke to how California occupational safety and health officials are working on revisions to the state's rules on blood-borne pathogens regulation specifically tailored to the adult film industry.

AHF’s Weinstein said his organization would not rest until the issue “is dealt with.”

“For the industry, a confrontation with the implacable force of regulation is looking inevitable,” the Times article predicted.