Report Calls for More Stringent Health Regs for Adult Industry

Joanne Cachapero
LOS ANGELES — Director of the STD Program for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Dr. Peter Kerndt published a report last week outlining his response to research gathered from the adult industry on the subject of sexually transmitted diseases.

The report also contains a list of regulations that Kerndt proposes as the basis for an industry-wide system of better business practices concerning condom use and controlling exposure to STDs.

Published on, the article was co-authored by UCLA scholar Cordita Grudzen.

“I think it’s the culmination of wrestling with this issue for a long, long time and wanting to put it out there and have a conversation — what do we need to do to protect those that are working in this industry?” Kerndt asked XBIZ.

“My view of it is that they are workers and my belief is that no worker should be subjected to inordinate risk in the course of their employment,” he said.

The extensive report laid out historic background of HIV/STD testing in the adult industry, as well as statistics gathered from industry performers.

“Between January 2003 and March 2005, approximately 976 performers were reported with 1,153 positive STD test results,” the report stated. “Of the 1,153 positive test results, 722 (62.6 %) were chlamydia, 355 (30.8%) were gonorrhea, and 126 (10.9%) were co-infections with chlamydia and gonorrhea. Less is known about the prevalence and risk of transmission of other STDs such as syphilis, herpes simplex virus, human papilloma virus, hepatitis B or C, trichomonal infection, or diseases transmitted through the fecal-oral route.”

Kerndt goes on to say that while the system of testing implemented by Adult Industry Medical Healthcare (AIM) is an effective harm reduction model, he also said that the use of condoms in adult productions should be required as an effective component of guaranteeing safety in the workplace.

The report said that after the last HIV outbreak on an adult production set in 2004, a meeting was convened between officials from Cal/OSHA, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, the California Department of Health Services, the American Civil Liberties Union and the adult industry trade organization Free Speech Coalition, which resulted in a letter being sent to 185 adult production companies urging the use of condoms in order to avoid violating OSHA regulations.

However, Kerndt points out that, three years later, few adult studios have complied with a voluntary condom-only policy. He suggests legislation to regulate workplace safety in the adult industry, as well as education and vaccinations for performers.

Kerndt also said there are several options for adult producers to alter their content, in order to disguise the use of condoms.

“There are many ways that you can mitigate the effects and still have the same product,” Kerndt said. “There’s absolutely no interest in changing a product that’s marketable. It can be simulated. You don’t need to ejaculate into someone’s mucous membranes, or you don’t even need to use ejaculate. Mylanta looks far better.”

“There are many ways — the angle of the shooting, the lighting, flesh-colored condoms, the editing. There are many different means that could be used to reduce the risk to the performer to an acceptable risk,” he said.

The report also contains a list of proposed protocols that Kerndt said he would like to see as a basis for system of standard business practices, including:

  • National legislation that includes regulation of Internet-based adult films
  • Mandatory condom use with condom seal of approval
  • Film rating system based on set safety criteria
  • Licensure of performers
  • STD testing paid for by the industry
  • Vaccinations against human papilloma virus and hepatitis B and post-exposure prophylaxis paid for by the industry
  • Education and training of all workers and employees
  • Legal age of performers raised from 18 to 21
  • Drug testing of performers
  • AIM founder Dr. Sharon Mitchell responded to news of Kerndt’s report by explaining that while on-set condom use would be the ideal scenario, the reality of the situation dictates a safety standard that allows for non-condom productions. She also said that the industry should be allowed to self-regulate.

    “You know what — people would just move out of state,” Mitchell told XBIZ. “It’s very easy for people to shoot underground. People wouldn’t bother to get permits if they know that the government is going to monitor whether they’re using condoms or not. I just don’t think it’s the best solution for this population. The protocol has to be made and measures have to be stepped up in order to have safety, but I think it has to come from the industry itself; rather than the health industry and the State health department impacting on the industry.”