AIM Defends HIV Outbreak Strategy

Rhett Pardon
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – The Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation (AIM) on Thursday defended its voluntary quarantine strategy and indicated government shouldn’t intrude on the self-regulating industry after two actors tested positive for the AIDS virus.

“We feel confident that this outbreak has been contained,” AIM board member Ira Levine told reporters at a press conference at the Universal City Hilton. “No additional transmissions of HIV from these cases are expected, either in the adult-performer talent pool or in the community at large.”

Much of the $12 billion adult content business was put to a halt after a second actor tested positive for HIV last week. The organization said that 53 actors who subsequently either worked with infected actors Darren James and Laura Roxx and the men and women they had sex with have been quarantined. The hiatus remains for at least 60 days while testing continues, but could extend beyond June 8, AIM officials said.

Levine said that supervision of adult production, whether mandating the use of condoms or prohibiting sexual practices deemed to be high-risk, will drive production underground and alienate performers from the healthcare system.

Adult star Nina Hartley, who joined AIM officials at the press conference, blasted government officials for wanting to regulate the industry.

“It’s just a bad idea to regulate … there are better choices,” Hartley said. “Every industry has its risks, and we can do better with voluntary compliance.”

But the topic of regulation at the press conference turned into queries of why the county Health Department got involved in the latest adult actor outbreak.

Levine, who also is an adult content producer, said the Health Department’s insistence that they turn over legal names and other information on Wednesday has distanced the group and authorities.

“We are at a loss to justify their unprecedented fishing expedition in our confidential files,” Levine said. “Our inability to protect their privacy from governmental intrusion threatens to compromise that trust.”

But attorney Jeffrey J. Douglas of Santa Monica, Calif., who represents AIM, said that relations are still good with the government officials.

“We’re not unaware that this can be politically tied in with upcoming elections,” Douglas told XBiz. “But after reviewing the demands of a letter from health officials, we voluntarily gave them the records they needed. There was no subpoena or any other court order.”

Sharon Mitchell, who leads the nine-employee organization, told XBiz the clinic walks a tightrope each month with its lean $1.4 million budget and tries to make up deficits with donations.

She said AIM charges actors $110 to test for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and screens about 1,200 adult movie performers a month at its two clinics in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Calif.

One critic of the organization is adult director/producer Rob Spallone, who indicated to members of the media before the press conference that AIM hasn’t done enough to help the adult industry.

“Why can’t they create an outside database, so actors can find out more about other actors?” Spallone asked. “Why not promote condom use more or make it mandatory?

“They should educate actors about other ways to transmit HIV – like when facial cumshots enter the tear duct – that’s about the fastest way to get it,” he said. “Or double anal, which is relatively new. What the hell is that all about?”