December 8, 2010
Derrick Burts, aka Patient Zeta, regrets not demanding condoms. Photo: LA Times.com.
Adult film stars catching sexually a transmitted disease is no surprise. But the shock comes when one of them admits publicly that he or she actually has it. News such as this hit the airwaves yesterday when Patient Zeta's identity was revealed to the LA Times. Derrick Burts, 24, is the porn star that tested positive for HIV in October of this year. His identity has been kept under tight wraps by Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM) in Sherman Oaks, California. Burts has come out about his status because he wants to now advocate for condom use in adult films. He is not alone in his efforts.
Burts has acted in both straight and gay porn. He claims to have contracted herpes, gonorrhea and Chlamydia from former cast mates. When he tested positive for HIV, he was told that it had to have come from his personal sex life. Burts rejects that claim stating, "There is no possible way. The only person I had sex with in my personal life was my girlfriend." Since 2004, 25 cases of HIV have been discovered at the AIM clinic and at least 8 of those were adult film performers. Facts like this seem to verify Burts stance.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation shares Burts outrage over the adult industry's lack of concern for the safety of its performers. In August 2009, AHF held a press conference to announce its filing of Notice of Safety or Health Hazards' complaints with California's Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health. In that document, they complained that sexual acts filmed without participating performers using condoms depicted the unprotected exchange of bodily fluids and is, therefore, life-threatening. "In my time in the industry, I did some very hardcore movies, and only drugs and alcohol could get me through them. I played a crazy game of Russian roulette with my life. The industry did not and still does NOT enforce condom usage, so STDs and HIV were and still are a high risk among porn actors and actresses," says Shelly Lubben, former porn actress and founder of the Pink Cross Foundation a public charity dedicated to offering adult industry workers support. Pink Cross Foundation joined AIDS Healthcare Foundation at the press conference. Michelle Avanti, former porn star and member of Pink Cross Foundation also stated "As I continued to do hardcore porn, I started catching STDs all the time. My lower body hurt so badly and at times my private area felt like it was a blazing fire. I could no longer work because I caught so many STDs and infections. I believe that if condoms had been allowed to be used in my own films, I would not have suffered so many physical ailments and infections."
The California Adult Film industry is a multibillion-dollar industry. Burts himself said that he earned $200 to $800 for filming a straight scene and $1,000 to $2,000 for a gay scene. Filmmakers claim to empathize with the performers but say that using condoms is "a turn off".