By Edwin Folven, 8/23/2012
AHF claims ballot measure would prevent spread of STDs
A potential syphilis outbreak has caused some adult film companies to temporarily halt production, adding urgency to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s (AHF) call for a ballot initiative requiring condom use in adult films.
The Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for the adult film industry, called for a moratorium on film production last Saturday after at least one performer recently tested positive for syphilis. The L.A. County Department of Public Health is investigating, and as many as nine cases of syphilis among adult film performers may have recently been reported.
AHF president Michael Weinstein said the reports illustrate why a countywide ordinance — Measure B — is needed, requiring condom use in adult films. The issue will be decided by voters in November.
“This is proof that self-regulation doesn’t work,” Weinstein said. “Testing is not a form of prevention. Syphilis has a ninety-day incubation period, and people could go as long as nine months without the disease being detected. This is proof it’s time for regulations.”
The Free Speech Coalition is calling for all adult film performers to be tested for syphilis —more than 1,000 performers in the Los Angeles area. The coalition acknowledged that testing does not prevent the spread of the sexually transmitted disease because of the 90-day incubation period, but said testing is a step towards identifying the scope of the problem. According to a statement issued by the coalition, at least five adult film production companies are providing funding for the testing and shots that are needed to treat the disease. Syphilis is caused by bacteria, and infected individuals can be cured with antibiotics.
“I always appreciate how our industry comes together in a time of need,” Free Speech Coalition executive director Diane Duke said. “Clearly our industry’s priority is the health and well-being of our performers.”
Tom Myers, general counsel for AHF, said the law created by Measure B would prevent outbreaks of syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases by limiting exposure to others. Diseases can also spread to the general public by adult film performers who have sex with individuals outside the industry. It is unclear exactly how the ordinance would be enforced, but Weinstein said it would likely be through spot checks at adult film shoots. Film L.A, the non-profit organization that issue film permits, would likely be tasked with charging adult film producers a fee that would cover enforcement costs.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, 3rd District, declined to comment on the recent outbreak, but encouraged voters to weigh in on the condom issue.
“The matter will be on the ballot in November, and people will have the opportunity to vote on it,” Yaroslavsky said. “That’s what the initiative process is all about.”