California: Porn HIV Case Renews Concerns

State and local health officials said Wednesday they are launching investigations into a newly confirmed HIV case in an actress working in Southern California's pornography industry.

According to the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIMHF), the San Fernando clinic that serves adult-film stars and confirmed the positive test, the woman's partners have tested HIV-negative. Those partners are not being allowed to perform at this time and are being encouraged to get re-tested in 14 days, said Brooke Hunter, the clinic's administrator. However, public health officials said an official report has not been made at the state or county level.

The new case, the first publicly confirmed case since an HIV outbreak shut down pornography production in 2004 for four weeks, is likely to reignite debate over whether the industry lacks sufficient safety measures to prevent transmission of HIV and other STDs. Dr. Jonathan Fielding, health officer for Los Angeles County, said he is concerned that condoms are not being broadly used. "You wouldn't send someone to work on a high-rise building without a hard-hat, so why are we allowing these performers to perform without condoms?" he asked.

Deborah Gold, a senior safety engineer with the state Occupational Safety and Health Division, said numerous investigations of the industry have found that condoms are not used and that no training has been conducted to prevent unsafe contact.

According to Fielding, the county receives AIMHF reports of 60 to 80 new cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea per month among adult performers. The clinic's protocol calls for performers to get tested for HIV every 30 days. Fielding, however, said this is inadequate since it takes nine to 11 days after exposure for the virus to be indicated by test results.