Porn Star Tests Positive. Again.

What Women Really Think
Oct. 14 2010 3:50 PM

Porn Star Tests Positive. Again.

At least five major California porn producers have stopped shooting since a performer tested positive for HIV this week. Investigators are still trying to determine how many actresses he may have exposed and whether he was infected at work. The news is sending shockwaves through the industry because the actor is reportedly part of a porn power-couple . He and his girlfriend are said to be stars who have worked with some of the biggest names in porn.

The race is on to trace and test the actor’s partners, and their partners. The risks are high. Most straight porn shoots don’t use condoms, despite state labor laws that require all employers to protect their workers against exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Some studios have voluntarily called a time-out while they wait to learn the results of the investigation, but other companies are still filming.

The latest positive test comes as Cal-OSHA is considering a proposal to revise the bloodborne pathogen rules for the adult film industry. This latest case of HIV was picked up by the Adult Industry Medical Health Foundation, an industry clearinghouse for STD testing and record-keeping. Straight porn performers in the San Fernando Valley are expected to test once a month with AIM. In theory, participating studios won’t allow performers to work with an expired test. In actuality, AIM has no legal power to compel anyone to do anything.  

AIM maintains a database of all the scenes each performer has done in the industry. If an actor tests positive, AIM knows exactly which sex acts s/he performed on set with whom, and when. That makes it much easier for AIM to notify others who may have been infected. AIM can also create "quarantine" lists of people who have been exposed or infected.  

Last June, an actress tested positive through AIM. She worked while HIV positive, but she didn’t infect anyone else. According to AIM, she contracted the virus outside of work.

In 2004, actor Darren James infected three actresses with HIV through unprotected on-camera sex. AIM had cleared James to work after his HIV test came back negative. It turned out that he had contracted the virus shortly before his test, too soon for it to show up.

Testing is no guarantee of safety. The industry says that it shouldn’t be subject to the same laws as other employers in the State of California because its unique voluntary testing program makes condoms unnecessary. AIM’s program is useful for stopping the spread of HIV once it shows up, but the tests are such that the virus can spread widely before the first positive test comes back.