(619) 505-7777

California AIDS Healthcare Foundation Petitions Cal/OSHA to Explicitly Require Condoms in Porn

As part of its ongoing campaign to require the use of condoms in adult films produced in California, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) filed a petition last week at the final 2009 meeting of the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Cal/OSHA) seeking an amendment to California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 5193 “Bloodborne Pathogens”. The petition asks Cal/OSHA to clarify protections for workers in the adult film industry and to explicitly include a condom requirement.

The action has been prompted by the ongoing epidemic of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) in California’s adult film industry. According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH), workers in the adult film industry are ten times more likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease than members of the population at large. LADPH documented 2,013 individual cases of chlamydia and 965 cases of gonorrhea among workers between the years 2003 and 2007. LADPH has observed that many workers suffer multiple infections, with some performers having four or more separate infections over the course of a year. In addition, LADPH has stated that as many as 25 industry-related cases of HIV have been reported since 2004.

“AHF is filing this petition due to the inaction of the adult film industry producers to comply with current Cal/OSHA regulations and to take necessary steps to protect performers by providing and enforcing the use of condoms during filming,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Although workers in adult films should enjoy protections under the current phrasing of the regulation, the adult film industry has steadfastly refused to take any steps to protect its workers from diseases spread by bloodborne pathogens, resulting in thousands of employees becoming infected with sexually transmitted diseases.

“We are taking this action on behalf of the thousands of workers who are needlessly exposed to STDs during the production of adult films in California. We look forward to Cal/OSHA’s swift action on this issue.”

This past August, AHF filed sixteen worker-safety complaints with Cal/OSHA over the lack of condom use in adult films made in California. AHF supported its complaints with the submission of nearly 60 adult DVDs filmed in California and in which the performers do not wear condoms. The complaints asserted that the films demonstrated unsafe—potentially life-threatening—behavior in a California workplace, as the sexual acts filmed without participating performers using condoms depict the unprotected exchange of bodily fluids.

“Unlike other workers, such as health care workers for whom protective prophylaxis are required in the workplace, most workers in the adult film industry perform sexual acts without any protection from exposure to communicable diseases that may be contained in bodily fluids and discharges,” states the petition letter.

“LADPH has documented an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases among workers in the adult film industry. It attributes the epidemic to a variety of high-risk acts which workers are required to engage in, including ‘pervasive use of ejaculation into the mouth’, ‘growing use of internal ejaculation with vaginal and anal sex’, ‘pervasive use of unprotected anal sex’, ‘multiple partners over short time periods’, and ‘double-vaginal and double-anal sex.’ Most importantly, LADPH attributes the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in the adult film industry to a lack of protective equipment for performers, including condoms.”

"It's a chorus that we've heard before more than a few times, with newly HIV positive performers fearing they'll be blacklisted if their status is known,” said Spenser Quest, an adult film performer who became positive while working in the gay adult industry in a recent interview with BGay News. "For those who are new to the business, or for younger performers who are relatively new to gay sex, the silence around the topic can lead to fear, shame and a lack of safety with other performers in sexual situations off set."