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Porn actor tests positive for HIV

Monday 18 Oct 2010 10:04 p.m.

Health officials in California are considering strengthening workplace safety rules for the adult movie business after another performer tested HIV positive.

More than half a dozen pornographers in California's multibillion-dollar adult entertainment industry have halted production.

Vivid Entertainment Group and Wicked Pictures were among the companies taking the precautionary measure.

Co-founder and co-CEO of Vivid Entertainment, Steven Hirsch, said: "We immediately shut down production. We want to be sure we get all the facts before we head back into production."

Actors in movies by Wicked Pictures use condoms, but the company president said two shoots were on hold and production depended on further HIV test results from a clinic that serves the industry.

PinkVisual Productions is also slated to halt production for at least a few weeks.

Adult Video News reported additional shutdowns at Hustler Video, Digital Playground, Jennaration X Studios, Girlfriends Films and Kick Ass Pictures.

The identity and gender of the HIV-positive actor has not been released by the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, the clinic where the case was discovered.

The clinic was working to identify and test on-screen partners of the actor.

Since a 2004 outbreak, 25 cases of HIV have been discovered at the AIM clinic and at least eight of those were adult film performers.

County public health officials and state occupational health officials have said the widespread lack of condom use on porn sets puts performers at risk of contracting HIV and other diseases.

Adult film producers have said viewers find condoms to be a turn-off.

Steve Nelson, of Adult Industry News, said: "I'm afraid that if they tried to enforce condom use, some of the smaller companies would again go underground and make an illegal product."

Last year, a woman tested positive for HIV after making an adult film, and in 2004 an HIV outbreak affecting several actors spread panic in the industry and briefly shut down productions at several California studios.

In recent years, advocates and health officials have tussled with porn producers and free speech advocates over the use of condoms in adult films.

Shelley Lubben, a former adult film actress and anti-porn activist, said: "I don't understand. Why does a hospital have to follow the rules and you don't have to? Why do you get to operate differently than any other workplace in California."

State workplace safety officials are considering strengthening rules designed to prevent transmission of disease by requiring the use of condoms in the films.

HIV is spread most often through sexual contact but can also be contracted through sharing contaminated needles in drug use, infected blood products, or by babies born to or breast-fed by infected women.

HIV is the cause of AIDS, an immune disease that gradually destroys the body's ability to fight illness.

In an average month, Vivid spends US$250,000 shooting four movies, which require a total of 12 to 15 days of shooting, Hirsch said.

The company has a stockpile of unreleased movies and it would take months without any new production activity to affect Vivid's release schedule, he added.

A senior editor at Adult Video News said he expected most production companies to shut down until it's known who had contact with the person known to have HIV.

Like other entertainment industries, adult film makers have been hurt by the recession and the internet, where pirating and free downloads often cut producers out of profits.

Last year, in a tongue-in-cheek complaint about the sour economy, Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild chief executive Joe Francis called for a US$5 billion federal bail-out.

They said adult DVD sales and rentals had decreased 22 percent.

APTN / 3 News

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