HIV-Positive Porn Star Didn't Infect PartnersS

Good news: the porn actor who tested HIV positive did not infect any of his partners, personal or professional. But the battle over condoms in porn isn't over.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the industry-sponsored Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation announced Friday that partners "from both personal and professional life," had tested HIV-negative "on two occasions, using multiple testing methods." Also, "It has been established that Patient Zeta acquired the virus through private, personal activity and there was no transmission of the HIV virus from Patient Zeta to anyone else."

But the Los Angeles County public health director, who has a long history of locking horns with the group, says he hasn't been able to independently verify the information without AIM's cooperation. AIM also declined to provide details on how many people had been tested.

Essentially, it's a battle over whose job it is to regulate the industry — whether studios can be trusted to regulate themselves and continue producing the condom-free porn they say consumers demand, or whether the state of California should mandate condom use, which industry advocates claim will kill their profits and send porn production underground or overseas. (By some interpretations, condoms are already required under laws that employers "protect their workers from exposure to blood-borne pathogens." But the county has said it's logistically unable to do so, especially without a mandate from the state legislature.)

In a post on Big Think last month, Lindsay Beyerstein was skeptical of that premise. "California is only one of of two U.S. states where it's legal to shoot hardcore porn, so it's not like the companies have unlimited relocation options." And the benefits of being in the above-ground economy — licensing deals, major-channel distribution — are pretty good incentive for bigger studios, at least. The more amateur stuff is already operating under the radar.

She also quoted Jenna Jameson framing it as an issue of female sex worker safety and confidence: "It's something that's left up to the performers and usually the women say yes or no and I think a lot of the women feel pressure to not use condoms because they're in fear of not getting hired by that company again. It's very sad and disgusting." (Bigger stars tend to be able to demand condoms or more stringent testing.)

But there's no consensus within the industry itself about whether mandating (or more precisely, enforcing) universal condom use is best for performers. There's the argument that condoms in professional sex are different from the personal sort — more likely to cause unsafe abrasions — but it's at best anecdotal. Feminist porn director and actress Madison Young told Salon in October, "Making condoms mandatory for all adult films is just as confining and dis-empowering as eliminating condoms as an option for performers. There needs to be an element of choice, and the choice shouldn't be that if you want work you don't use condoms and if you want to use condoms then you don't work."

The problem is that the current muddy self-regulations and enforcement seem to be rendering vulnerable those performers with less leverage. Will the debate be shelved now that the immediate risk is gone?

Porn Actor With HIV Didn't Infect Any Other Adult Performer, Clinic Says [LAT]
Related: Porn, HIV And The Great Condom Debate [The Atlantic]
The Counterproductive Condom Conjecture And Other Fallacies [Big Think]
Porn Star Madison Young: Making "Safe" Sexy [Salon]
Earlier: HIV-Positive Porn Star Was Gay To Straight