AIDS Group Petitions CAL/OSHA to Mandate Condom Use in Porn Production – What Do You Think?

bulk-condomsIn June of this year, a porn performer tested positive for HIV. To make matters worse, she was hired to work immediately before she was tested (or after, depending on who you ask) even though it had been over a month since her last test. The fear was that she had exposed her co-stars to the disease. Thankfully, none of her partners contracted HIV.

A scandal involving the industry’s testing service, Adult Industry Medical (AIM), erupted and accusations of hiding positive tests, skewing numbers and generally being incompetent began to fly. Amid all of this, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) launched a campaign to require condom-use in California, which brings us to yesterday.

The AHF filed a petition to amend California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CAL/OSHA) rules regarding blood-borne pathogens to mandate that condoms must be used by all porn performers in the state. This has been wholly rejected by the industry for a variety of reasons, ranging from performer safety to loss of profits. Accepted wisdom in the adult industry is that condom porn doesn’t sell.

So I’m curious what you, the consumer, thinks about this subject. Is requiring condoms a good idea? I’ve expressed my opinion in another forum, but I really want to hear from you. Participate in the poll below and feel free to share your opinions in the comments as well. This issue has the potential to radically change the way pornography is made and very few people are discussing the impact on the customer.

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Should condoms be mandatory in porn?

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What do you think will happen if condoms are mandated?

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Further reading:
‘Handful’ of Adult Performers Quarantined After Positive HIV Test
Not-So-Safe Sex
AHF Petitions Cal/OSHA to Amend Regulation, Explicitly Require Condoms in Porn
FSC Lobbies Against Potential Mandatory Condom Legislation
The Coming Condom Law
Porn Performers’ Health: Why the System is Broken

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30 Responses to “AIDS Group Petitions CAL/OSHA to Mandate Condom Use in Porn Production – What Do You Think?”

  1. G man Says:

    I think it’s pretty straight forward: Mandatory condom use would effectively kill (what remains of) the American porn industry. The hub of the industry would relocate to Prague, Budapest or whereever.
    Like it or not what is needed is a significantly improved system of testing and controlling. – Specifically one which is run by qualified specialists who are independent of the industry and its interests.

  2. ropeadope Says:

    As a porn consumer, I do not mind the utilization of condoms. However, I know there are many porn viewers who do find condom use objectionable. Browsing through the VideoBox movie review comments will pinpoint many such comments. I think safety should be the overriding concern. But obviously (as discussed in your linked post) there’s a debate whether condoms provide greater safety or introduce new medical concerns into the equation.

    Regarding the potential move of the porn industry outside of California (say to Florida for the sake of argument), wouldn’t a similar group likely petition that locale’s OSHA for the same restrictions?

  3. Papayaman1 Says:

    I agree with G man, the existing controls are adequate for most situations if properly enforced with some form of independent oversight. Performers need to be tested regularly and the tests need to be reliable. Simple as that.

    I can’t help but feel there is a political agenda behind the initiative for mandatory condoms, notably the familiar anti-porn one, driven on the one side by a politically correct feminism and on the other side by a largely hypocritical moralism. We just have to hope that somebody will realise that an insensitive regulation of porn will simply drive it underground opening up the door to much greater abuses than any that are currently practised.

  4. Frand444 Says:

    I don’t see how testing can provide complete protection unless the results are instantaneous and infallible.
    The performer can go in for the test then spread STD’s for days until the results come in, not to mention false negatives and the infection being too recent to be detected by the test.
    For testing to be truly effective, as a safety measure, porn performers would have to restrict their sex lives exclusively to other porn performers, all following the restrictions, testing, and who are not intravenous drug users.

  5. Twocentz Says:

    I don’t think California porn producers would want to “flaunt” the measure. I believe the word you’re looking for is “flout”.

  6. ropeadope Says:

    @ Twocentz – flaunt – to ignore or treat with disdain: He was expelled for flaunting military regulations.

    One source did state that one flaunts something of one’s own (wealth, good looks, education) while one flouts something outside oneself (convention, law, regulation). Under that strict interpretation, flout would seem to be a better fit. But that’s really nitpicking. For our purposes, I believe the two words can be used interchangeably.

  7. alison Says:

    G man – I think you’re right that the CA producers would move much more production to Eastern Europe. Qualified experts doing the testing would be a humongous improvement.

    ropeadope – To be honest, I’m not sure they would be so quick to regulate. Or at least, it would take a long while. The level of production outside of CA is growing but still so small that I don’t think it’s really on the radar of the regulators in those states. It took CA quite a while to take any action on this, so I doubt it’d be any different in another state where production is already going on and being tolerated.

    Also, thanks for checking on the usage of “flaunt” for me. I did some more research and while “flaunt” is probably a defensible choice, as much as it pains me, “flout” is probably *more* correct in this context.

    Papayaman1 – I think you’re correct about the motivations on the right, but I suspect that the left’s agenda has very little, if anything, to do with feminism. Democrats and the non-profits involved get to say they are “protecting workers,” which plays well with their constituencies. The fact that they may be putting them in more danger clearly isn’t apparent (or of concern?) to them.

    Frand444 – There is absolutely no way to prevent STIs in the porn industry. None. There are definitely ways to reduce transmission, but you’re right that unless performers only have sex with partners who within a very limited population that have been confirmed free of STIs and no one else, there will always be risk inherent in being a porn performer. It’s an unfortunate reality of the business.

    Twocentz – Thanks for looking out. I appreciate it when those things are pointed out because I’m often annoyed by incorrect spelling/grammar/usage.

  8. Strangepork Says:

    Out of all of the performers who have worked under the current industry testing system, what percentage have tested HIV positive? And how does that compare to the rate of new HIV infections among the overall population during that same time period?

  9. jubilee7801 Says:

    On a completely unrelated note – is anyone having issues streaming? It seems the computer will look for an address:

    mcache1.videobox.com and nothing will load – anyone else having that issue?

  10. alison Says:

    Strangepork – According to the CDC, the rate of HIV infections among the general public in the US was 22.8 per 100,000 in 2006 – 0.023%

    To the best of my knowledge, 21 people* have tested positive for HIV while actively working in the straight side of the business in the last 20 years; 8 since 2000. Let’s call that a rate of 1 per year. If we guesstimate on the low end that 200 new performers enter the business every year, the rate of infection is 0.5%. To achieve a level on par with the US public, 4,300 *new* performers would have to enter the industry every year.

    * – List of actors infected with HIV:
    June’s Patient X (no name has been released)
    Darren James
    Bianca Biaggi (Brazil)
    Lara Roxx
    Miss Arroyo
    Jessica Dee
    Tricia Devereaux
    John Stagliano
    Mark Wallice
    Tori Coca Flame
    Niki Lae
    Tony Montana
    Brooke Ashley
    Caroline
    Kimberly Jade
    Delfin (France)
    Jordan McKnight
    Nena Cherry
    Rebekka Armstrong
    Carrie Morgan
    Dusty

  11. xtcbyme Says:

    Two comments. First anybody that thinks they are going to protect individuals by revoking their ability to choose will be shocked by the outcome. By denying someone a job because the job was regulated out of existence is what passes for compassion from well meaning, but misguided liberals. But we all live in an age where the popular belief is that government and regulation is a sound and judicious answer to all of our problems. Government is rarely the answer to any problems. Second, the assumption that this idea is driven by right wing religious zealots is very out of place. That is the knee jerk reaction of a uniformed or ignorant individual that supposes that ALL things which are against porn or other forms of sexual expression MUST arise from some bible thumping naysayer. Unfortunately for those of us who prefer sex to be captured in a more natural setting the condom drive has more in common with the wackjobs leading global warming, feminism, gay rights and other militant type groups that seek to impose the will of the few on everyone. Now, before you start name calling I don’t believe in women being seen but not heard or left bare foot and pregnant, nor do I think our laws should over look the rights of gays or anybody else, but I think they should be fair and respectful of individuals not groups of advocates for special treatment.

  12. Papayaman1 Says:

    xtcbyme, I think I’d be more convinced by your protests against stereotyping and blaming the religious right if you had refrained from doing exactly the same thing to gays, feminists and environmentalists. Personally, I have actually seen members of the religious right (who often struck me as zealots) condemning porn and associating it with the spread of AIDS. I think there are forces on the left that also condemn porn on the basis of what strike me as ill-founded arguments. But I’ve never encountered environmentalist arguments against porn and I’d be interested if you could point me in the direction of any websites or publications that give them. As to government regulation I agree it is harmful when it is insensitive and intrusive. But lack of regulation is arguably more harmful. I think it is generally agreed that sex workers who operate in a legalised and regulated environment (such as Holland and Germany) are normally safer and less abused than those working in unregulated countries.

    Alison I take your point above and having read your column I thought your take on the situation made a lot of sense.

  13. Papayaman1 Says:

    Alison, just to clarify I meant to say your column in the other porn site (you give a link for it above) made a lot of sense.

  14. xtcbyme Says:

    Papayaman – I was not trying to draw similarities of cause, but similarities of action. The environmentalist for example, will not through careful presentation of the facts using peer reviewed science try to persuade individuals of their ideas, but will use a court of law to force property owners to spend their money in support of their purpose. It is the act of militant tactics. Find your target. Threaten them with legal action. Present a false, but plausible view that captures popular public support. Acquire a sympathetic court. Sue. Regardless of the outcome the target will either collapse or will be rendered impotent and without capital in the end. We see this in race relations, Jesse Jackson and his crew for example, we see it in fur, and/or animal testing, all of it. My point is that we no longer consider the individual when recognizing rights, but only the vocal group that knows how to terrorize the public with their propaganda.
    Further I did not dismiss factions from the left or right who may have a thing against porn, but was trying to argue that not ALL action taken against the adult industry is projected by bible thumpers. As for government, again my point was not to abolish government and regulation, but argue that when government is involved the final solution is never something that is liked – by either side. Regulation has its purpose, for example, I live in Nevada, prostitution is legal here in certain counties, but each brothel must follow state guidelines for sexual actives and testing of the workers. The oversight by the state arose by legislative action by elected representatives not by case law enacted by unelected judges.
    The nanny state has us covered. The law says you must wear your seat belt. The signs warn us endlessly of wet floors. Smoking is dangerous. Personally, I would prefer to make my own choices, where I work, who I fuck, either with or without a condom, drink my coffee hot, drive a SUV instead of a Prius. The time is fast coming when I will have lost the battle and the war and when porn is banned by a government that feel it creates inappropriate behavior – we will not be able to do a damn thing other than riot or revolt.

  15. Papayaman1 Says:

    xtcbyme, I think I am getting a better idea of where you are coming from now. I don’t agree with everything you write, but you certainly put your case very persuasively. I very much agree with your position on regulation which I take to be that it may be necessary but it is hardly ever liked by those it affects. Whilst I agree with your point about how the law is often abused by interest groups, I have to say that many environmentalists seem to me to be proceeding in the scrupulous scientific manner that you would wish for. Trouble is they get ignored. I suspect you might just agree with me that a scientific analysis of the effects of porn (on both observers and participants) tends not to get much space because ‘false but plausible views’ coming from biased interest groups tend to get the limelight. And I certainly agree with you that the nanny state is ever more intrusive. The only qualification I would make is that the impetus to ever greater interference in individual freedom comes as much from the right as the left. Thanks anyway for taking the time to respond.

  16. Boots Says:

    As a selfish consumer, I’d prefer the performers not to use condoms, but it’s not a deal-breaker for me. It’s roughly on the level of, eg, an unwelcome tattoo. So if it proven that condoms would protect the health of the performers, it’d be hard to argue against them. We need to be aware of the difference between reality and fantasy, and how our fantasies can have impact on real people.

    (Whether condems would protect, I’m not qualified to say.)

    Incidentally, there was a programme on the BBC recently about whether men tend to imitate what they see in porn, and specifically, whether the absence of condoms in porn encouraged people to not use them in real life. It’s a factor that should be considered, if only to reject it.

  17. Twocentz Says:

    @ Ropeadope – My American Heritage says this:

    “USAGE Flaunt and flout may sound similar but they have different meanings. Flaunt means ‘display ostentatiously,’ as in : tourists who liked to flaunt their wealth, while flout means ‘openly disregard (a rule or convention),’ as in : new recruits growing their hair and flouting convention. It is a common error, since probably around the 1940s, to use flaunt when flout is intended, as in : the young woman had been flaunting the rules and regulations.”

    I didn’t know they’re interchangable. I think I’ve always ever heard “disregard” used instead. So thanks Alison for using the word in the first place. We learn something new each day.

    @ Alison – Do you know a reliable source for figures on how much the porn industry is worth to CA on an annual basis? Porn is, I think, unique in that despite being a (multi?) billion-dollar industry, it lacks the kind of lobbying power found in similarly-sized industries, or else is outflanked by lobbying groups that oppose it.

    My sense is that this might ultimately be “much ado about mothing”, and I wonder if OSHA’s efforts to regulate wouldn’t prove flaccid (pun intended). I notice that their website (http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/) currently leads with “H1N1 Guidance for Employers and Employees”. They’ve spent months telling employers to require that any employee with flu-like symptoms stay away from the office. Still most employers (and employees) flout these rules with impunity. Would AHF’s petition, if heeded, lead to similar “guidance” or actual regulation?

  18. alison Says:

    Boots – Performers like Belladonna have come out against condoms because the friction they create inside an actress over the hours she spends filming any scene is enough to cause pain and sometimes injury. That sounds like a reasonable concern to me, but I can’t say for sure how much of an issue it is. That’s an interesting point about whether men imitate behavior they see in porn. Do you remember what the BBC program was called? I’d be interested to see it.

    Twocentz – In a word, no. Estimates have been blown way out of proportion and I don’t think anyone has a great idea of the overall revenue porn generates because no one shares those figures with anyone else. That said, I think it’s a sizable enough industry for dirt broke California to want to keep around. Your point about OSHA is well taken. They are a toothless organization and their influence has waned substantially in the past decade or so. That said, they have a bee in their bonnet over this thing and can be a real nuisance if they want to be.

  19. ropeadope Says:

    @ Twocentz – Good research, thank you.

  20. Hodgepodge Says:

    Porn is about fantasy, and I doubt many of us would include condoms in our fantasies.

    The purpose of condoms is to provide a barrier against bodily fluids; that’s how they work to prevent the spread of STD’s generally. I’m not sure what the pupose of wearing a condom is if the male is going to remove it and ejaculate into the female’s mouth. There’s still a transmission of bodily fluids from one performer to the next.

  21. Rael Says:

    I haven’t read all these comments, but there is something I’ve always thought about condom use in porn, and that is the impact it has on kids (i.e., under the age of 18, not talking kindergartners here). Teens are going to watch porn well before being of legal age–many probably before reaching their teens. I did. All the mumbo-jumbo in health class was all well and good, but when you see it happening on your TV or computer screen, it’s a bit different. Kids also see the woman rejoicing in grandiose orgasms. Kids do not see condoms. Maybe I’m stretching, but kids are going to emulate what they see in these films (I took many a mental note, even if I never really used them), and if condoms aren’t there, why would they want to wear them? Pornstars seem perfectly healthy.

    When it comes to my personal opinion, I’m conflicted. On one hand, I can barely watch porn with condoms. On the other, I realize it is safer for the actors (I suppose). Which is why I voted yes.

  22. Rael Says:

    As to the flaunt/flout debate, Flaunt is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary (the definitive authority on word definitions and etymology) as:
    2. a. Of persons: To walk or move about so as to display one’s finery; to display oneself in unbecomingly splendid or gaudy attire; to obtrude oneself boastfully, impudently, or defiantly on the public view. Often quasi-trans. to flaunt it (away, out, forth). b. Of things: To be extravagantly gaudy or glaringly conspicuous in appearance.
    3. trans. To display ostentatiously or obtrusively; to flourish, parade, show off.

    Flout is defined as:
    1. trans. To mock, jeer, insult; to express contempt for, either in word or action. Also to flout (a person) out of (something).
    {dag}b. To quote or recite with sarcastic purpose.
    2. intr. To behave with disdain or contumely, to mock, jeer, scoff; to express contempt either by action or speech. Also dial. to scold. Const. at; whence in indirect passive.

    They *can* be interchangeable, but using one over the other will invariably change the meaning of what one is saying.
    I’m sorry, I’m an English major.

  23. jeff Says:

    and who is AHF? probably just some phony bullshit frontgroup funded by an offshoot of the democrap party, who want to regulate everything – including when and where you take a dump…

    they usually come up with some fake name like “Doctors for a more perfect world who also support Obama’s healthcare reform”…what a joke….welcome to the nanny state…

  24. Rael Says:

    Yes, but we all know republicans are constantly fighting for the persecuted pornstar, right jeff?

  25. thirdeye Says:

    porn is the reason we have fuckin’ moronic children having unprotected sex and getting pregnant. I’m all for kids having sex, whenever they are ready, but god dammit… use a fuckin condom. And since maybe like 10% of porn EVER shows condoms, and the majority show women having the best sex possible… kids are getting dumber and dumber over the years and will watch porn and then emulate the actions because sex ed in school is a friggin’ joke.

    That being said, I hate condoms in my porn. BUT I believe making it the law will do nothing, as the producers will just move. Hell, everyone come to Canada! (COME TO VANCOUVER!)

  26. Rael Says:

    “ids are getting dumber and dumber over the years”

    Don’t blame the kids, it’s not their fault so much of this country has a fucked sex ed program *cough, conservatives, cough*.

  27. jonnydotto Says:

    @alison

    I looked at the statistics you quoted and I think it would be hard to make a comparison on the rate of HIV infection between the general population and in the porn industry. First, I think that the porn population in your calculation should include all stars currently performing in a given year, rather than just the freshman actors for that year. Second, that study you cited says per 100,000 adults and adolescents, but how they decide who gets included with that group isn’t mentioned (at least not on that page). For the sake of comparison, a more meaningful population would be *sexually active* adults and adolescents (e.g., had sexual contact at least once this year), which would make it a bit harder to calculate. Furthermore, infections due to needles or blood transfusions should be dropped from the equation since, at least with naive prior knowledge, both the general population and active porn stars are similarly affected.

  28. chubber Says:

    For me personally, condoms are an instant no-sale. Just like scat porn, faux rape, and 1970s pubes. I’m probably not the only person that completely avoids a scene with otherwise great content just because there is a condom, and porn companies know this. Porn is about fantasy, condoms aren’t in my fantasy.

  29. Boots Says:

    @alison, the BBC programme was called “Hardcore Profits” and was mostly about how household name companies don’t want to admit how much money they make from it. There’s more on it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00mk52f.

    It touches on the condoms-for-pornstars issue but just assumes they’d have a positive effect on their health, and that by requiring pornstars to work without condoms is causing them to risk their health and perhaps even life, for the sake of greater profits, thus making said household business names immoral. To be honest I didn’t find it enthralling. It’s 2 hours long and not particularly deep or insightful.

  30. tom brokaw Says:

    No condoms! Lame!