New Porn Database Lists Actors, But Not Health Stats
A new online database offers adult filmmakers a list of available models and actors, but does not include any health information, such as HIV status, as an earlier database did -- a database that hackers compromised, reported ABC News in an Aug. 2 article.
Although the database, which has been organized by adult entertainment trade association The Free Speech Coalition, does not include any specific medical data on the actors listed, it bills all of those included as free of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), the report said.
The older site was called AIM Medical Associates. Hackers broke into that site and made the health information it contained available online. AIM Medical Associates was taken down in May, the ABC News article said. The new site, Adult Production Health & Safety Services, is intended for use by industry professionals such as producers and agents, but even if hackers penetrate the new database there is no specific medical information there to be stolen.
A health clinic for adult film actors also closed in May following hackers’ leaking of medical information of the clinic’s clientele. A May 4 Associated Press story reported on that closing, saying that it came in the wake of a website posting confidential information reportedly from the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation. "At the time, the clinic said substantial amounts of the information posted to an online wiki were not available in their database," the article said.
The Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation had "faced criticism from state and local health officials for failing to cooperate with an investigation into porn actor Derrick Burts’ HIV-positive diagnosis there in December" of 2010, the AP article added.
"The 24-year-old said he contracted the disease after a few months in the business, and instead of getting information from the clinic about how to get follow-up care, he was told to avoid media, change his phone number and leave town," the AP story continued.
"APHSS.org does not contain any medical records and very minimal information to identify users," the Free Speech Coalition’s Joanne Cachapero told ABC News. "In the unlikely event that the database was hacked or breached, there is not much personally identifying information contained in the database."
The issue of adult performers’ health has been a recurring, and controversial, one. In the case of Derrick Burts’ having contracted HIV, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service’s Dr. Francisco Meza prepared a report in which he said that porn studios had stonewalled the investigation into Burts’ HIV infection and the question of whether he might have transmitted the disease to others.
California’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration has made noises about imposing a condom requirement on the porn business since at least last year.
Cal/OSHA investigated Treasure Island Media after hearing a complaint about the porn film studio in November of 2009, according to the California Department of Industrial Relations. The investigation led to three citations, including a citation for inadequately protecting employees from disease transmission. "On Nov. 5, 2009, Treasure Island Media had failed to write or otherwise establish, implement and maintain an effective exposure control plan," the investigation determined. The company was fined more than $21,000.
The fact that the actors in the company’s films were performing without condoms was noted in the report. "Treasure Island Media does not observe universal precautions during the production of their films," the report stated. "They have not instituted engineering and work practices controls to eliminate or minimize contact with blood and semen, including, but not limited to, the use of barrier protection such as condoms."
Treasure Island Media has cast several HIV+ actors in its films, and the company has made a selling point of their participation. But the use of HIV+ actors was not at issue, according to Cal/OSHA’s Deborah Gold, who told Xbiz in a Dec. 3, 2010, article that the citations stemmed partly from unprotected sex and a lack of universal precautions, regardless of HIV status.
"Anybody may be infected, therefore you have to treat everybody’s blood and other potential infectious materials as though it can be infectious," Gold noted.
Treasure Island Media is based in San Francisco and was established by film producer and director Paul Morris in 1998. The studio has been controversial in the gay world. Treasure Island Media has been barred from being present at gay events like the Folsom Street Fair and International Mr. Leather. The latter event has banned vendors from selling any materials, including videos, that depict barebacking.
EDGE Reported in a June 13, 2009, article on a rash of HIV infections among models in heterosexual adult films that roiled the porn industry and set the stage for OSHA intervention.
"While barebacking is extremely controversial in the gay-porn world, condomless sex is more or less taken for granted in straight porn," EDGE reported. "There’s a perception that if performers are regularly tested, there’s less worry about infection than among gay men."
An Aug. 12, 2009, Advocate article followed up on the story, reporting that the issue of mandatory HIV testing for adult film performers had once again surfaced in the wake of the reported rash of new infections. But the "outbreak," the article said, involved fewer performers than initially reported--and of those cases, it was impossible to determine who, if any, of the affected performers were exposed to the virus on set, versus in their private lives.
But the fact remains that the industry, though supportive in some quarters of testing for STDs, is not as pro-active in terms of condom use to prevent the spread of infections, including HIV. The article quoted JM Productions’ Tony Malice as saying, "If a girl only wants to work with a condom, she can seek out that work ... same for men. But it will be much less work."
An EDGE article from May 24, 2010, reported on barebacking, noting that, "The question as to why barebacking has become increasingly popular, both in adult films and in everyday life, has become something of the elephant in the room in the gay community: something that’s going on despite the health risks, but really not discussed."
Either because consumers want to see barebacking depicted on film as a means of fantasizing about a kind of sex they do not participate in, or because they do decline to practice safer sex and wish to see those choices reflected in films, there is a high demand for barebacking videos, the EDGE article noted. Some criticize the production of these videos, saying the younger gays who view them will take away an impression that they do not really need to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
"I think the message is going out to people, particularly young people, that the only kind of sex that’s hot is unsafe," Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation told ABC News. "You wouldn’t let a construction worker dangle 30 stories without a harness just because he says he’s willing," added Weinstein, who has been a primary champion for mandatory condom use on the set of porn movies and photo shoots.
Others defend barebacking productions on artistic and free speech grounds, and point to existing policies that require porn actors to be tested routinely.
"I personally think it’s more important that the testing is mandatory and that we keep it mandatory," porn actor and director Bobbi Starr told ABC News. "There’s a lot of talk about taking away testing and making condoms mandatory, which to me seems like a step backward. Why not have the option of both?"
For businesses, however, simple market pressure mandates the production of videos depicting unprotected sex. The porn industry has resisted efforts to require condom use in the shooting of porn films.
"If the market would accept condom-positive movies, that’s what we would all be making," Evil Angel Productions GM Christian Mann told ABC News. "The fact is consumers don’t want that.
"If you make it so California-based productions cannot compete in the market, you’ll just drive production out of the state," Mann added.
Added porn actor Nina Hartley, "I would say it’s different in a civilian population [than it is among porn professionals]. But public health is not served by forcing a small group of professionals to use condoms instead of being tested."
"To those who say pornography without condoms promotes unsafe sex, Hartley has strong words," the ABC News article noted.
"It’s not the job of adult entertainers to be educating people about safe sex practices," Hartley declared, going on to fault what she called an "ignorance-based abstinence-only model of sexual education" that some schools offer students.