Is Mainstream Media Blowing HIV Scare Out of Proportion?

LOS ANGELES — Adult industry performers are speaking out about the current HIV scare, discussing topics ranging from mainstream media, HIV awareness, safety procedures and how this could affect their own careers.

Adult actress Brooke Haven, who’s performed in more than 400 scenes and has never been diagnosed with an STD, told XBIZ that mainstream media outlets are unfairly targeting the adult industry.

“I think it’s unfair that our industry is cast in a negative light,” she said. “They don’t understand. They think, ‘Oh, this happens because they’re in porn.’”

Haven said that sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth.

“We’re the safest people out there. We’re cleaner than the average person because we get tested regularly. A lot of people who aren’t in porn don’t get tested and could be infected and passing it around without evening knowing about it.”

Porn performer Mr. Marcus, who has been tested regularly for the last 16 years, agreed with Haven, saying the porn industry is an easy target for mainstream.

“Mainstream media is blowing this out of proportion,” Mr. Marcus told XBIZ. “If someone who is not in porn is tested positive for HIV, it doesn’t get national media attention.”

But he’s also quick to point out that this latest HIV case provides an opportunity for everyone, in porn and mainstream, to learn more about the disease.

“We need to take this HIV case and use it as an opportunity to educate people and maybe change some people’s minds about our industry,” Mr. Marcus told XBIZ. “But, if you’re gonna have sex, use a condom. If you’re smart, use condoms and get tested.”

“I wish there was a better way to educate the public,” Haven said.

Performer Ann Marie Rios, who has worked in the industry for nine years, told XBIZ that mainstream uses the industry as a scapegoat.

“It’s unfair, but understandable,” she told XBIZ. “Mainstream isn’t in tune as to what goes on in our industry.”

She said she has always been very particular about whom she works with, but now she’ll be even more careful.

“I’ll be tightening up my list of people who I work and don’t work with,” she said. “Things can be tightened up and further rules implemented for more protection.”

Rios points out that producers shoot scenes that consumers want and that includes scenes without condoms.

“It comes down to the consumers who are just as much to blame. If scenes with condoms sold, they would shoot condom-only, but it’s the general public who are driving non-condom use.”

She added, “If anyone has unprotected sex, there’s a possibility they’ll get HIV. I am all for being safe. I don’t think it would be the worst thing if everyone was mandated to use condoms.”

But, Haven sees it a different way. She believes performers should be able to decide for themselves whether to use condoms and supports a condom-optional policy. But she said testing should be mandatory.

She said the porn industry takes STD testing very seriously and when there’s a positive test, the entire community takes all the appropriate safety precautions.

Haven, who gets tested about once a month, also applauded the work of AIM.

“I believe AIM is doing all the proper things. I have never caught anything because of AIM and my healthy lifestyle.”

Haven said the industry is already facing tough financial times and for major studios to stop production only shows how far the industry is willing to go to stay safe.

“A lot of us can’t afford to stop production, but it’s the right thing to do,” she said.

Haven said she has in the past six months also witnessed production companies stepping up safety procedures on sets and offering rubber gloves, hazardous materials bins and sanitary stations.

She said she’s glad to see these protections on sets and credits the work of Cal/OSHA, which is considering strengthening worker safety regulations in the workplace to better address the adult environment.

“It may be good to have Cal/OSHA involved. There are always pro’s and con’s, but I’m all for a safer industry all around.

Mr. Marcus said it would be impossible for Cal/OSHA to regulate or mandate condom use, but he said the adult community constantly improves its testing methods.

“We can learn from the past. There are things we can do better,” he said.

“Everybody needs to be tested, condoms or not. But this case will pass. We just have to go through it and not panic,” Haven added.

But all three performers agree that everyone in adult should be responsible for themselves and take all the necessary precautions to keep the adult industry as safe as possible.