Condoms in porn: AIDS Healthcare Foundation aims for a statewide law in California.

California Might Make the Porn Industry Put on a Condom

California Might Make the Porn Industry Put on a Condom

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Sept. 15 2015 12:06 PM

California Might Make the Porn Industry Put on a Condom

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Photo by Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/AFP/Getty Images

In 2012, AIDS activists in Los Angeles helped pass a law requiring condom use on all porn sets within county lines. In 2014, a federal court upheld the law, finding that the First Amendment doesn't excuse employers from basic health and safety regulations. Now the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has turned to the rest of California, trying to get the mandatory condom requirements on a statewide ballot. "Organizers said they collected 557,138 signatures from registered voters, more than the 365,880 they needed by Monday for the initiative to be on the ballot in November 2016," Reuters reports.

Efforts to mandate condom use on porn sets have been met with widespread industry resistance, demonstrating that porn producers have some of the same knee-jerk hostility to government-mandated worker protections you find in roughly every other industry. (After Los Angeles passed the condom measure, a lot of porn filming moved out of the city. But as statewide regulation will be harder for porn producers to avoid.) The standard argument is that audiences don't want to see condoms and that routine testing of adult film performers is protection enough. However, adult film performers have significantly higher STI rates than, say, Nevada prostitutes, suggesting that condoms are indeed more effective than regular testing. One study showed that 28 percent of porn actors tested positive for gonorrhea or chlamydia over a four-month period. That suggests that 1 in 4 actors has one of these diseases—not just over a lifetime, but at any given time. 


To promote the initiative, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has recruited four former porn performers who contracted HIV while working in the industry. "Porn producers tell the media that performers have a choice when it comes to condoms. What they don’t tell you is that if a performer wants a condom, they’re paid less," Cameron Adams, who contracted HIV in 2013, explained in a press release. "Sometimes, producers will fire you for asking. We’re replaceable.” Like most porn performers, Adams didn't get insurance benefits from her job, which makes affording expensive HIV drugs a nightmare. 

While the purpose of this ballot initiative is to reduce the transmission of HIV and other STIs in the porn industry, seeing more condoms being used in porn could have the side benefit of normalizing contraception use. That could be especially beneficial since it's not like mainstream entertainment depicts condom use all that much, either.