FSC, AHF Don't Budge at Standards Board Meeting

FSC, AHF Don't Budge at Standards Board Meeting
Rhett Pardon

COSTA MESA, Calif. — The state Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board today heard officials from both the Free Speech Coalition and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation over two competing proposals that could mandate new rules for bloodborne pathogen exposure on adult film sets.

Siouxsie Q, the FSC’s director of policy and industry relations, and Adam Cohen, the AHF’s director of advocacy and policy research, each spoke during the Standards Board’s public comment period at its monthly meeting, which was held this month in Costa Mesa.

Siouxsie Q told the Standards Board that the FSC is hoping that regulators would grant another advisory meeting “in order to give proper time and space for the division to understand the nuances and details of our industry.”

The Standards Board has not yet made a decision over whether to permit another advisory meeting over bloodborne pathogen exposure before voting on the two proposals. Regulators held an advisory meeting debating merits of both proposals in late January. That meeting, in Oakland, lasted 6½ hours.

The FSC’s Petition 560 emphasizes performer control over their bodies and allows the protocols to improve by making use of scientific advancements. FSC's petition would keep current standards like the PASS system, but it would also add options, including the use of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and vaccines.

The AHF, meanwhile, has pushed for Petition 557, which is similar to an ill-fated amendment that was shot down by the Standards Board in February 2016 to the current  bloodborne pathogen exposure law.

That amendment, if it had been greenlighted, would have greatly expanded barrier protection for porn performers and likely would have required performers to wear goggles to avoid ocular infections and dental dams for oral sex.

Siouxsie Q told the Standards Board today that she thanked them for “continuing to listen to the perspectives for workers that could be affected by any regulations you adopt” and that both regulators and proponents of 557 have “a great deal of insight to gain” about the FSC’s protocols.

“I come from a background of liberal rights and understand how and important and crucial this process is,” she told the Standards Board, noting that proponents of 557 still believe that the FSC’s arguments over barrier control are “irrelevant.”

“It is obvious that the proponents of 557 have little understanding how the PASS system works, which is why a second meeting is so crucial,” she said. “They have been undermining and dismissing our years of work developing a system that helps prevent the transmission of HIV.”

Siouxsie Q went on to discuss the value of the FSC's PASS system, particularly after a performer recently tested positive for HIV and a moratorium on production was instituted.

“The past protocols eliminated the risk of an active and untreated HIV infection from entering our production sets,” Siouxsie Q said. “All on-set partners have been retested and cleared.

“When something like this happens, it is crucial that the privacy of the performer is and continues to be upheld and protected. We work with a doctor to help with partner notifications," she said.

“In this case, the performer reached out to PASS directly and they felt safe to do so. The performer is in the process of being linked to care and is receiving support.”

The AHF’s Cohen, in his delivery to the Standards Board, called the FSC’s PASS testing system a “scheme” and asked regulators to deliver an update on how they plan on moving forward with its petition.

“The industry diverts attention to its voluntary testing ‘scheme’ — one that the industry’s trade group claims all performers participate every two weeks,” he said. “Despite this, one in four performers still contract infections in this testing ‘scheme.’”

No other stakeholders approached the podium for public comment at today’s monthly meeting, which mostly included discussion of occupational health and safety issues affecting construction work.

The Standards Board did not discuss or act on either of the two petitions.

The next Standards Board meeting will be held in Oakland on May 18.

Related: