Azure-eyed Jason Domino is a British sex worker and porn actor whose adorable accent conjures dirty Downton Abbey fantasies. What makes Domino extra sexy is that he uses his popularity and platforms to advocate for sex workers, promote pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and combat HIV stigma in adult films.
“My very first call to activism was about PrEP,” Domino said. “In 2016 or so, I did an adult film called Porn4PrEP. It was a porn film, but it was also trying to teach people about PrEP so they could make choices.” Domino, who takes the HIV prevention medication, did a scene with an actor living with HIV who happened to have a detectable viral load at the time, boldly showing that PrEP works.
You can watch Porn4PrEP—the G-rated version—here:
Once Domino started being a PrEP hero and gained a better understanding about undetectability, specifically the reality that people whose HIV is undetectable cannot transmit HIV sexually (undetectable equals untransmittable, or U=U), he made it a mission to inform others.
“There’s a lot of HIV stigma going on in the adult film industry,” Domino said. He said there’s “still a lot of traditional views, particularly in the straight spaces. Well, ‘traditional views’ is putting it politely,” he added. “There’s some really awful stigma happening there.”
It’s especially challenging in straight porn. In the straight world, if a performer tests positive for HIV, it can mean the end of a career, the end of any work at all.
“There was quite a stink a few years back,” Domino said. “August Ames refused to do a scene with a pansexual actor who was working in both the gay and the straight industry. She cited HIV risk and protecting her body. It brought out a load of bigotry in the straight space.”
Ames, a rising star in the straight porn world, posted about it on Twitter. The gay community quite strongly called her out for the homophobic way she framed it. It spawned a Twitter war about HIV risk and gays versus Ms. Ames’ own right to decide who to perform on screen with.
“[The backlash] was nasty. I tried to reach her when I saw the community kicking off,” Domino said. “I wanted to try to explain what U=U means and how things are different now. But it’s difficult when someone is already in a defensive space.”
The social-media backlash was too much for her, and, sadly, she committed suicide just two days after the Twitter scandal erupted.
“It was terrible,” Domino said. “There wasn’t a resolution of her learning and understanding how much HIV has changed. The straight porn community just saw it as a case of cyberbullying.” Ames’ suicide seemed to make the division between the straight and gay porn worlds even more pronounced. “There are these two separate pools of work, and it’s seen that the gay world takes more risks than the straight world,” Domino said. “It’s really difficult.”
Seeing this divide and the lack of information and understanding across the spectrum of the porn world, Domino was sparked to join with others in the adult film world to create Porn Professionals for Safety Against Discrimination (PPSD). This site is a place for performers and producers to pledge to agree to a work environment that allows for performers to understand all the risks and non-risks when it comes to HIV and sex. It opens the door for disclosure, U=U, PrEP, sexual health, and choice without fear of judgement or repercussions. The pledge also gives performers the freedom and respect to choose whether or not to engage sexually with people living with HIV and promises to honor confidentiality when it comes to HIV status.
The production companies that have signed on so far are Himeros TV, Porn4PrEP, Treasure Island Media, CrunchBoy, The Good Porn Project, and TelevisionX. Health organizations, industry groups, and content platforms are also publicly supporting those taking the PPSD pledge, including JustForFans.com, NAM aidsmap, and the Prevention Access Campaign.
Besides the pledge, the site also includes supplementary information about HIV, disclosure, testing, and sexual health for other sexually transmitted infections. Because adult films are a global industry, performers often travel for work to different countries that have different testing capabilities and methods. The actor knowing as much as they can about the challenges beforehand is another key to remaining healthy. “We need to be having these conversations,” Domino said, “because if we’re not and it’s buried underneath, people aren’t going to be able to make right, educated decisions.”
Domino, along with fellow adult performer Kayden Gray (from the film U Equals Fucking U), is encouraging other performers to take the pledge. Gray comes from the point of view of someone living with HIV and on successful treatment, and Domino is proof that PrEP works. “Right now,” Domino said, “we’re trying to get more individuals to sign on to the pledge, content creators—because there’s this big movement of people that are filming themselves—along with a number of straight actresses that are living with HIV.”
“There’s a long way that we need to bring people,” Domino said. “There are organizations in America and across Europe trying to be safeguards for the porn industry, and there’s pressure from the medical organizations for the porn industry to get it right.”
Domino is also raising funds for porn performers to have access to PCR HIV testing. This test reacts to the genetic material (RNA) in HIV, and can detect HIV as early as days after a possible HIV exposure. “With the PCR test, the result is enough information to know someone is either HIV negative or undetectable, verses a result indicating there was a high enough HIV viral load to be detected,” Domino said. This provides enough information for the performers and the production team on set, while still allowing for status privacy of the actor. This also enables productions (studios or the new wave of content creators) to demonstrate they are creating space free from discrimination.
As with a lot of HIV knowledge throughout history, gay men like Domino are leading the way to greater understanding of HIV, even in the adult film world. “Sometimes you have to strong-arm them to get them to come along,” Domino quipped, “but we’ll get there.”
Check out Jason Domino’s film work and activism on his website, and follow him on Twitter @thejasondomino and Instagram @thejasondomino.