Misguided ‘Adult Film Act’ Would Remove Performer Protections, Drive Industry Underground

January 13, 2015

Today, Michael Weinstein of AHF submitted the draft text of his controversial statewide ballot measure, which would force adult film performers to wear condoms, calling them a threat to public health.

The Act would result in an effective criminalization of the adult industry. Under AHF’s proposed Act, those involved in the manufacture of an adult film that did not comply would be personally liable for massive penalties for even minor infractions. The Act would require adult film producers to be issued licenses by the government in order to produce, and would require performers to submit their personal medical records for state inspection. Talent agents would be punished for representing adult performers.  And, perhaps most dramatically, and in an acknowledgement that Measure B succeeded in driving the industry out of state, the Act would effectively prohibit the sale and distribution of adult films produced without condoms inside California, even in private transactions. This is not regulation — this is Prohibition.

The Act would destroy the industry as we know it, drive the existing producers underground, and eliminate hard-fought performer protections. This process has already begun to happen in the wake of AHF”s misguided Measure B. Film permits dropped, productions moved out-of-state, and producers began shooting outside the industry’s widely praised testing system. That’s why, like AHF’s previous campaigns, we expect this will be vigorously opposed by performers.

Performers should always have the right to use a condom, but AHF’s conservative morality should not be forced on them under penalty of law. Performer should have control over their bodies, not the government and certainly not Michael Weinstein.


Measure B Decision will Hurt Performers

December 16, 2014
Policeman in Hazmat clothing with gieger counterThe 9th Circuit Court of California announced today that it would decline to issue an injunction to stop the Measure B, the 2012 ballot measure which seeks mandate condoms in adult film produced in Los Angeles County. This latest decision is not a ruling on the constitutionality of Measure B, but rather a decision declining to enjoin the rest of the statute at this time. Previous courts have struck down the enforcement component of the law; this latest ruling does not change that decision.

“While this intermediate decision allows that condoms may be mandated, it doesn’t meant they should be,” said Diane Duke, CEO of the Free Speech Coalition. “We have spent the last two years fighting for the right of adult performers to make their own decisions about their bodies, and against the stigma against adult film performers embodied in the statute. Rather than protect adult performers, a condom mandate pushes a legal industry underground where workers are less safe. This is terrible policy that has been defeated in other legislative venues.”

Los Angeles County has seen a 95% drop in permits since the passage of Measure B, as adult film production has moved into neighboring counties, and out of state, most notably to Las Vegas.

Under standards enforced by the industry, in order to work, adult film performers must test every fourteen-days for a full-slate of STIs, including HIV. There has not been a transmission of HIV on a regulated adult film set in over a decade.

“This decision will hurt performers,” said Duke. “That’s why a broad coalition that includes doctors, public health advocates, performers and performers rights groups came together to defeat similar legislation this summer.“

Plaintiffs in the case are considering all options for moving forward and will make a decision in the coming weeks.


Adult Industry Calls Weinstein Statewide Condom Bill “Misguided and Dangerous”

November 7, 2014

no-on-measure-b2Performers and producers oppose Michael Weinstein’s dangerous and ill-informed attacks on the adult industry. This morning, he will announce that he will place a statewide version of his disastrous Measure B legislation on the ballot. Measure B, a Los Angeles condom ordinance, resulted in a 95% drop in permits for adult production, and spurred an industry exodus to Las Vegas.

Diane Duke, head of the Free Speech Coalition, released this statement:

“Michael Weinstein is resorting to the ballot initiative process because he can’t get it done any other way. His campaign has failed multiple times in the legislature, it’s has been opposed by HIV outreach and LGBT groups, it’s been opposed by civil rights groups, it’s been opposed by newspaper editorial boards and, most importantly, it’s been opposed by performers. Why? Because the bill not only takes away performers’ control over their own bodies, it pushes the industry out of California and underground, making performers ultimately less safe.

Anyone who looks at the data around performer health sees that Weinstein’s campaign is more about his dislike for the adult industry than it is about workplace safety. Despite shooting hundreds of thousands of scenes, there hasn’t been a transmission of HIV on a regulated adult set since 2004 thanks to a rigorous protocol that requires performers to be tested every fourteen days for a full slate of STIs including HIV. Yet because it attracts donors to his organization and headlines for himself, Weinstein has manufactured a crisis.

In his one-man war against the adult industry, Weinstein routinely uses performers who contracted HIV in their personal lives, and were stopped from working by testing protocol, as evidence of danger. It’s cynical and shameful, and he’s been reprimanded repeatedly by public health authorities for making claims that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

As a result, Weinstein now uses confusing language, most notably “the performers contracted HIV while working in the adult industry” to imply that transmission happened on a set without making the claim directly. (It’s like saying “Magic Johnson contracted HIV while working as a basketball player”). Having failed at the legislative level, he’s now hoping that he can use such language to confuse voters.

Michael Weinstein’s controversial AIDS Healthcare Foundation has been under fire locally and nationally for using his taxpayer funded organization to enforce various versions of his conservative morality. His misguided morality campaign is not limited to adult sets — as part of his condom-only campaign, he has called for an end to HIV vaccine research, he opposed medication that can prevent HIV transmission, and he has sued the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles when they’ve opposed him.

Performer health is important. But performers, the most tested population on the planet, should have the ultimate right to control their bodies and their health. They don’t deserve to be shamed or treated as a public danger, or to have their rights trampled. Michael Weinstein is using taxpayer money to fund a campaign that is opposed by performers, public health experts, and civil rights groups, in hopes that he can use the ballot initiative to accomplish what has failed in every other venue. We, likewise, will oppose this.”


FSC Statement on AHF Protest of Cal-OSHA

November 5, 2014

Cal_OSHA_Sticker_weboptimizedMichael Weinstein and the controversial AIDS Healthcare Foundation have announced they will be protesting at Cal/OSHA offices in Los Angeles. While we’re not exactly sure what they’re protesting — Cal/OSHA is expected to release regulations early next year —we’ve put together a response statement to clarify some of the issues.

“Cal/OSHA is currently in the process of drafting regulations specific to the adult film industry. We expect a draft version of the regulations to be available in just a few months and that those regulations will take into account the input of the affected workers — in this case, adult film performers and performer groups — something Michael Weinstein and AHF have refused to do.

This is why performers, HIV outreach organizations, LGBT rights groups, public health departments, and civil rights organizations have consistently opposed Mr. Weinstein’s misguided attacks. We think that public policy should rest on science and data, rather than his personal moral objections to adult film.

For the record, adult film performers are tested for a full slate of STIs, including HIV, every two weeks, in a system that has successfully prevented any transmission of HIV on a regulated adult film set for over ten years. (Mr. Weinstein routinely employs performers who contracted the virus in their personal lives in his campaigns against the adult film industry.)

In generating a manufactured crisis, Mr. Weinstein not only wastes tax dollars, he wastes resources that should be used to educate and treat communities where HIV is a real issue. Railing against the adult industry brings Mr. Weinstein more press attention than opening clinics in poor, underserved communities, but from the standpoint of public health it’s cynical and shameful.

We understand that our industry is often misunderstood — something Mr. Weinstein capitalizes on time and again. For that reason, we’re happy to talk with anyone about the industry, its safety record and the rights of performers.”


Moratorium Lifted After Test Proves to be False Positive

August 29, 2014

First generation tests have been returned cleared; production may resume

Yesterday’s potentially positive HIV test by adult performer was a false positive. The performer does not have HIV.  Additionally, the first generation performers who were tested proactively have also come back negative. Production on adult film can resume safely.

We understand that a moratorium is nerve-wracking for performers and difficult for producers. However, it’s essential that when it comes to performer safety, we err on the side of caution. We thank the producers, performers, agents and doctors who worked together during this difficult time for maintaining the moratorium, and for quickly helping establish a list of first generation contacts. While this was a false positive, it is always essential that we remain vigilant in concern to performer health.

The moratorium and testing system has enabled us to prevent any transmission of HIV on an adult film set for over ten years. While opponents of the industry often use our periodic moratoriums as evidence that adult sets are not safe, quite the opposite is true. Moratoriums have and continue to enable us to prevent HIV from being transmitted between adult performers.

Again, we thank everyone who worked so diligently and concertedly to protect performers during this current moratorium.


Moratorium FAQs

August 28, 2014

We’ve noticed that there is a lot of confusion, both in the media and within the industry about how the decision to call a moratorium is made, how the dates are determined and what protocols are in place to protect adult performers.

HIV is a serious issue, and its important that we deal in facts, not fear or rumor, so we’ve prepared an FAQ to help people understand the process.

Are Adult Performers Tested for HIV?
Yes. Any performer who wants to work in the adult industry must test clear of STIs, including HIV, within fourteen days of their shoot date. Performers who work regularly generally test every two weeks at PASS-certified testing clinics.

What is the PASS system?
The PASS system is a descendant of AIM (Adult Industry Medical), a healthcare foundation created by a performer with the support of FSC to help protect against STIs. Under the PASS system, producers and directors check to confirm that the performer is cleared to perform in the PASS database within the past fourteen days. If a performer does not have a recent test, or shows any irregularity, he or she will not be cleared to perform.

What happens if a performer tests positive for HIV?
If an active performer tests positive for HIV, a moratorium is immediately called and the industry immediately halts all production.

How are moratoriums called?
The doctor at the PASS facility that conducted the test checks to see if that performer has worked on adult film since 2 weeks prior to his or her last negative test. If he or she has, the doctor alerts the Free Speech Coalition, and the Free Speech Coalition calls an industry-wide moratorium. Production is halted while everyone can be retested to make sure no performers are exposed to the virus.

What happens during a moratorium?
During a moratorium, film production stops while doctors work to determine if any one else was exposed, and to establish a genealogy of the virus.

All performers who have worked with or had sexual contact with the positive performer prior to performer’s last negative HIV test are tested and retested. In some cases, third generation partners may be tested as well. The goal is to immediately figure out if anyone else was exposed to the virus and to stop any potential on-set transmissions.

The HIV Positive performer is interviewed to determine the timeline and 1st generation partners. If the performer had sexual contact with other performers off-set, the PASS doctors and FSC will work to make sure those people are informed and tested as well as any other individuals with which the performer had sexual contact.

How is the decision made to lift the moratorium?
A moratorium is only lifted after it is clear there is no threat of transmission.

Only after a genealogy of the virus is established, and all sexual partners have been tested, do the FSC and PASS discuss whether it is safe for performers to resume shooting.

If the FSC and PASS determine that it is safe to lift the moratorium, they set a date on which production can resume. All performers must then retest in order to be cleared for work. The retests must happen no less than 14 days after the date the positive performer received his/her positive results or the date of the positive performer’s last sexual encounter with a performer.

The HIV RNA Aptima test used by PASS has a 7-10 day window, meaning that it can identify HIV within 7-10 days of transmission. However, we wait at least 14 days after any possible exposure before lifting the moratorium for added accuracy, and to make sure that nothing was missed.

Why not wait longer?
In some cases, we do. If there are any irregularities, or if we suspect that there may be any extant threat to the performer pool, we hold the moratorium. We only lift the moratorium if there is no medical reason for it to be extended. We try to balance performer safety with the performer’s desire to work. While most studios stockpile films and can weather a longer moratorium, individual performers often have to contend with a direct loss of income once shooting stops.

How accurate are the tests?
The HIV RNA Aptima test is the most accurate test available. Because of its specificity and sensitivity a false positive (where a performer tests positive for HIV, but does not actually have it) will occur from time to time. We have never encountered a false negative and understand the incidents of false negatives to be exceedingly rare.

What else do you test for before HIV?
PASS has an extremely rigorous testing protocol designed to reduce the risk of STIs

Performers test every 14 days for:

• HIV (by “PCR RNA Aptima”)
• Syphilis (an “RPR” and Trep-Sure test)
• Hepatitis B & C.
• Chlamydia (by “ultra-sensitive DNA amplification”)
• Gonorrhea (by “ultra-sensitive DNA amplification”)
• Trichomonias

Why not just use condoms?
Unfortunately, condoms aren’t perfect. They break. In the shoots that can take several hours, they can cause abrasions known as “condom rash,” which, paradoxically, can make it easier to transmit an infection if one does break. For this and a host of other reasons, performers generally prefer to rely on the testing system over condoms. You can read more about that here.

 

 

 


Production Moratorium Called After Positive HIV Test

August 28, 2014

Red triangular other dangers warning sign on white(August 28, 2014) – Free Speech Coalition (FSC), the adult industry trade association, called for a production moratorium today after one of the testing facilities in its PASS testing system reported a possible positive HIV test for an adult performer.

“There was a positive test at one of our testing centers. Confirmatory tests are not yet back but we are taking every precaution to protect performers and to determine if there’s been any threat to the performer pool,” said FSC CEO Diane Duke.

 
“We take the health of our performers very seriously and felt that it was better to err on the side of caution while we determine whether anyone else may have been exposed.”
The next steps will be to perform additional tests, determine a timeline, and identify any first generation partners.

 
“We want to make sure all performers are protected. The performers’ health and safety is the most important thing,” Duke added.

 
As of this notice, FSC calls for all production to halt immediately, until further notice.

 
For more information on the moratorium, updates will be posted to the FSC-PASS website and the FSC blog.


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