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Hearing Extends Dialogue of HIV Outbreak in Porn

Hearing Extends Dialogue of HIV Outbreak in Porn
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Jun 4, 2004 2:29 PM PDT    Text size: 
VAN NUYS, Calif. – Assemblyman Paul Koretz said Friday that self-regulation of the adult film industry “may not be enough” but that over-regulation could be problematic at a hearing focusing on worker health and safety.

More than 80 adult industry producers, actors and executives heard testimony from 17 panelists at the State Office Building in Van Nuys, Calif., in an attempt to build dialogue after an HIV outbreak in the porn industry.

The industry slowed to a crawl last month as five porn actors tested positive for HIV.

The hearing was marked by an emotional "Miss Arroyo," who apparently was infected with the AIDS virus by actor Darren James.

The tall Latina bolted from the auditorium in tears when Dr. Sharon Mitchell of the Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based AIM Health Care Foundation testified.

"Miss Arroyo" later told XBiz that she had been misled by Mitchell and AIM Health Care, which tests and tracks sexually transmitted diseases for the adult industry.

"It's so embarassing," she said, commenting on some HIV tests not being fully conclusive. "What she said was news to me."

The three-hour hearing included testimony from actress Nina Hartley, officials from Cal-OSHA and an attorney with the ACLU.

Koretz, D-West Hollywood, Calif., said there is “no denying that adult entertainment is a significant part of the state’s economy” but that the unregulated industry has suffered from “historic neglect” because its leaders have not educated actors on all the possibilities of the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Health Department, also fingered the industry to blame for the outbreak.

“Why should workers be exposed in an environment that can be life threatening just to be employable?” Fielding asked. “This industry stands out for not supplying necessary training.”

But Jeffrey J. Douglas, general counsel for the Free Speech Coalition, said that if government were to regulate the industry through mandatory screening and condom use, there would be severe consequences.

Douglas said that prior to a landmark California ruling in People vs. Freeman, 46 Cal.3d 419 ... 598 (1988), most producers were “on the run” because most hardcore porn filming was illegal before the decision.

“That’s where the danger lies,” Douglas said. “Most of these filmings would go underground [with regulation].”

Douglas noted, however, that “condom [use in films] make economic sense in the long run.”

Free Speech Coaltion Executive Director Kat Sunlove said that AIM Health Care's system is working effectively and that the state needs the porn industry to remain here.

“Given budget problems, our government probably doesn’t need to lose that revenue stream,” she said.

At the hearing’s conclusion, some industry officials commented that there are plenty of alternatives that could make the business safer and more sane.

Bill Margold, who heads The Protecting Adult Welfare Foundation, suggested that the state should consider creating a mandatory age of 21 for actors who perform in hardcore sex, instead of a condom-only law.

“I feel compelled to advise you that anything approaching the smothering concept and omnipresent implementation of mandatory condoms will be the equivalent of giving the adult performer a Linus blanket riddled with holes,” Margold said. “And holes only grow bigger as industrious, or more appropriately anti-establishment, souls will find unique ways to crawl through them.”

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