LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors says it wants a state law mandating condom usage in all adult productions, but so far no state legislators have stepped forward to sponsor such a bill.
The mandatory condoms issue has been on the board’s agenda since last October. Lobbyists for the county have approached 19 legislators, all of whom declined to take up the cause, according to Dan Wall, chief lobbyist for the county. However, Wall noted, most of the rejections occurred before a woman tested positive for HIV earlier this month and then was allowed to have sex on camera during the filming of an adult movie.
It remains unclear why the female performer was allowed to work with an out-of-date certificate from industry health-testing organization Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation — a violation of accepted standards and practices — but Wall said the incident may convince some in the state capitol that it’s time to take decisive measures in order to protect public health.
“We are still in the game, but the odds are long because it’s late in the session and this bill is emotionally and politically charged,” Wall told Capitol Weekly, a newspaper covering California government and politics.
A lobbyist for adult industry trade organization the Free Speech Coalition said mandating condoms would be a “premature” step.
“All indications are that the industry [self-]regulations are working,” Ignacio Hernandez told Capitol Weekly. “This single incident is still under investigation to see what, if anything, went wrong. We would hope that no one would move forward with sweeping legislation until we know all the facts. We have a five-year track record of no incidents.”
The last reported outbreak of HIV within the industry occurred in 2004 after a male performer returned to the U.S. from Latin America. He infected several women before his status was detected. The incident led to a month-long voluntary shutdown of all adult entertainment film sets.
Currently the adult industry is unregulated beyond the confines of health and safety codes that apply to all other industries in California. Standards and practices advocated by the Free Speech Coalition and adhered to by most studios, however, require HIV testing every 30 days. Most studios will not allow performers to work without a current AIM certificate validating their HIV-negative status.
According to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a mainstream health and education organization, only 17 percent of adult productions require condoms. AHF and other groups say requiring condom usage would prevent virtually all performer-to-performer disease transmission. Some industry insiders condoms would destroy the fantasy of adult movies and result in a drop in sales of American products.
Mandating condom usage might be as simple as adding a clause or two to blood-borne pathogens regulations already enforced by the California Division of Occupational Health and Safety (Cal-OSHA).
“We’re calling for a worker protection objective here, not a change of what is on the screen,” AHF lobbyist Rand Martin told Capitol Weekly.