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Opinion

Requiring Porn Actors to Wear Condoms Is Legislating Problems That Don't Exist

January 8, 2015

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in late 2014 to uphold a lower court decision requiring actors in pornographic movies filmed in Los Angeles County to wear condoms during sex scenes, Reuters reports. But will this make a difference in rates of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) inside or beyond the porn industry?

The condom mandate was passed by 56% of Los Angeles County voters in 2012, along with a requirement that actors undergo regular testing for STIs. The adult film industry, which is said to be worth an estimated $9 billion to $13 billion a year, and is primarily based in Los Angeles, argued that the condom requirement violated its First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

According to the Reuters report, the Court said the original ruling was "narrowly tailored to achieve the County's interest of reducing the rate of sexually transmitted infections while also leaving open 'adequate alternative means of expression.'" Producers had complained about viewers being "turned off" by the visible presence of a method of disease and pregnancy prevention.

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Supportive of the law from the beginning, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) President Michael Weinstein issued a statement saying, "Today's ruling is a total vindication of AHF's position. We call on Los Angeles County for full enforcement of this law now. As the lower court said, they need to set fees based on actual cost. The porn industry has considered every option but following the law. Now it's time to do what 57 percent of Los Angeles County voters have asked of the industry -- and what the courts have upheld as constitutional."

Subsequent to the ruling, the Occupational Health Branch of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) cited worker safety in an alert promoting the use of condoms and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), as well as regular testing, for adult film actors. It refers to a case in Utah, in which a male actor had tested negative during the "window period," but was in fact positive and passed the infection to another male actor on set and one person outside the set, several months prior to the ruling. The CDPH noted that film producers are required by law "to provide safeguards to assure safe and healthy work environments for their employees."

"Should Vivid Entertainment and other porn producers decide to appeal the decision and bring their misguided case before the U.S. Supreme Court, we welcome the challenge for the courts to rule once again in favor of worker safety and show how the porn industry cares more about their bottom line than their workers," continued Weinstein.

Worker safety -- or anything, for that matter -- over the bottom line? He evidently hasn't been watching recent Supreme Court rulings.

Weinstein seems to be a bit of a one-note Johnny when it comes to condoms. He and AHF took a controversial stand on PrEP, going so far as to launch a major ad campaign against it, warning gay men that "there is no magic pill" and voicing concern that PrEP would lead to less condom use and more infections.

But many others have a different view.

Jim Pickett, director of Prevention Advocacy for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, told TheBody.com, "I've never been a fan of legislating problems that don't exist. Condoms in or out of porn don't begin to address the approximately 50,000 new HIV infections in the United States every year, mostly among young, gay black men. This ruling does absolutely nothing for them and it ignores that we have a scientifically-proven, CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]-endorsed tool to prevent HIV called PrEP -- among other non-condom options. Condoms are only one method of protection; they are not alone."

Pickett is right. Considering all the ways one can contract an STI, as well as all available prevention methods, is the porn industry's use of condoms really where attention should be paid?

Indeed, among gay men, no one seems to have come up with the right "messaging" to make consistent condom use appealing to those who weren't alive to see the devastating beginning of the AIDS epidemic and who, thanks to the one-pill-once-daily regimens available now, may think of HIV as a manageable chronic illness. To them, PrEP may be significantly more appealing, though it could mean taking one pill once a day to be most effective -- and the CDC still encourages the use of condoms along with PrEP.

Perhaps Weinstein should consider taking on the question of why the vision of a hot guy caring enough about himself and his partner(s) to wear a condom is a turnoff. Find the answer to that and we might see infection rates plummet.

Sue Saltmarsh has worked in the HIV/AIDS field for over 20 years, the first 10 as an herbalist and energy therapist at Project Vida, the last six as a writer and copy editor for Positively Aware magazine. She is now a freelance writer and editor and is also able to devote more time to her passion as founder and director of the Drive for Universal Healthcare (DUH).


Copyright © 2015 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

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This article was provided by TheBody.com.
 

 

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