Porn stars don't have to cover up after court ruling on condoms

 

Los Angeles

Campaigners seeking to mandate condom use in erotic films have said they intend to appeal against a court decision which prevents them from using health and safety regulations to ban actors from having unprotected sex on the sets of pornographic films.

The Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) had been seeking to force public health officials in Los Angeles county, the global headquarters of the pornographic industry, to carry out regular inspections to ensure that performers are not being exposed to sexually-transmitted diseases.

However, the California Court of Appeal this week upheld a decision that county health officers should be allowed to exercise their own discretion about the best way to achieve safety in the adult entertainment workplace. At present, those officers generally allow consenting adults to go about their business as they see fit.

Announcing that his organisation will now challenge that decision at the California Supreme Court, the AHF's Tom Myers said in a statement: "The county of Los Angeles has the duty to protect public health, one of the highest responsibilities of local government. It simply cannot ignore this duty and blithely sit by while thousands of people contract STDs."

Calls for greater regulation of pornographic film-making have been growing since 2009, when a female actress tested positive for HIV. Last year, one of her male colleagues, Derrick Burts, was also found to have contracted the virus. Unconfirmed reports have since suggested that as many as 22 adult stars were infected in recent years.

Mr Burts, 24, has since become a campaigner for mandatory condom use. In an interview with The Independent published in December he said that the current protocols have allowed STDs to become rife among the roughly 1,500 men and women working in porn.

"The industry let me down," he said. "They put me in a situation where I got HIV, and after I'd been diagnosed they did nothing to help me. That's why I have come forward. The industry must make performers safe when they have sex."

For most of the last decade, America's pornographic film-makers have attempted to prevent the spread of STDs by requiring performers to have monthly testing at a clinic in the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles.

That clinic closed in May, after being sued by victims of a data breach which saw personal details of clients posted on a website. It had already been briefly shuttered by regulators last year amid allegations that its treatment of diagnosed HIV patients breached licensing rules.

Since the closure, its duties have been transferred to a range of industry-friendly clinics, which post the status of adult actors on a central database. However Aids activists say that any testing regime is inherently unreliable and the only way to guarantee the safety of performers is through condom use.

California's existing workplace health and safety rules appear to mandate condom use, but they are not currently enforced in porn, and the industry argues that doing so would be impractical.

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