HIV scare: A guide to the porn industry shutdown

After a performer tests positive for a sexually transmitted disease, the multibillion-dollar adult film industry halts all production

After porn star Derrick Burts tested positive with HIV in 2010, the porn industry temporarily shut down: After another recent health scare porn production has once again gone dark.
(Image credit: Ted Soqui/Corbis)

The porn industry voluntarily shut down production Monday, after an unnamed adult film performer tested positive for HIV. How does such a frightening health scare happen, and what does the industry-wide halt mean for the lucrative industry? Here, a brief guide:

What happened?

After the positive HIV test, one of the industry's trade groups, the Los Angeles-based Free Speech Coalition, called for a moratorium on all pornography film shoots. Diana Duke, executive director of the coalition, says she is unaware of any companies refusing to comply with the shutdown.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

How long will the shutdown last?

The Free Speech Coalition will retest to confirm that the performer is indeed HIV positive. The moratorium on production will last as long as it takes to subsequently test everyone who has had sex with that performer, as well as the other sex partners of anyone who had sex with the performer, says Ryan Jaslow at CBS News.

Are these tests routine?

In California, adult film actors must be tested every 30 days and show proof of their clean tests before filming can begin on any porn production. Until recently, most porn performers were tested at a private Los Angeles clinic, says Alex Dobuzinskis at Reuters, but that facility closed in May. Since then, the Free Speech Coalition has been developing a program to replace it, but is still in the process of signing up the industry's performers, producers, and agents.

Has this happened before?

The porn industry temporarily shut down in 2010 after performer Derrick Burts tested positive for HIV in Florida. The industry was also rocked in 2009 when a performer in Nevada tested positive, and in 2004 when a performer contracted the disease while on location in Brazil. Since all of these cases originated outside of California, says Dennis Romero at LA Weekly, the argument is once again being made for nationwide testing standards.

Why don't porn actors start using condoms?

An advocacy group called the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is pushing for a California state law requiring performers to wear condoms, under the same guidelines that require nurses to wear gloves when dealing with bodily fluids, says Jaslow. The group is currently in the process of obtaining the 41,138 signatures required to put a measure on California's June 2012 ballot.

And the porn industry is against condoms?

Many insiders believe that "consumers won't buy porn with condoms," says Romero. And the proposed condom requirements would not necessarily make the industry safer. California is not the only place where porn is produced, and the measure might encourage the industry to move to Nevada and Florida — which have less strict regulations.

Sources: CBS News, International Business Times, LA Weekly (2), Reuters

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us