California: Testing Doesn't Stop HIV Spread in Porn Industry
September 23, 2005
Workers in the adult-film industry "need to be made aware of the risks associated with participation in various acts, to be able to participate in decision-making about their health and safety at work, and to benefit from prevention practices," according to a report in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Last year, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (LACDHS) investigators learned of four cases of HIV infection related to adult-film work. The first case, a 40-year-old man, tested HIV-negative on Feb. 12 and March 17, 2004, then tested HIV-positive on April 9. During the time between the two negative tests, the man engaged in unprotected sex in a film in Brazil. He then engaged in unprotected sex with 13 female partners in California. Three of these tested HIV-positive in April and May after having tested HIV-negative one month earlier.
LACDHS launched an investigation on April 20. Testing by CDC found that HIV strains from all four patients were identical, indicating the male was the source of the infections.
The infections occurred in spite of the industry's widely adopted voluntary HIV and STD testing program. In September, the state Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health, cited the actors' employers for failing to comply with California's blood-borne disease standard; for failing to report a serious work-related illness; and for failing to prepare and adhere to a written occupational injury and illness prevention program.
"In addition to the testing program being inadequate as the sole source of protection from HIV transmission, the costs of testing are typically borne by the workers themselves," the authors wrote. "The cost burden of health services could cause some workers to reduce the range and frequency of HIV and STD screening or to avoid or delay pursuing vaccination for hepatitis B virus." They noted that Los Angeles County is home to some 200 production companies employing 1,200 workers who engage in direct work-related sexual contact - often prolonged and without condoms.
The full report, "HIV Transmission in the Adult Film Industry -- Los Angeles, California, 2004," was published in Morbidity and Mortality Report (2005;54(37):923-926).
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.