Vice Squad
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
 
Testing Porn Actors


Yesterday's Times also had a story (registration required) about Sharon Mitchell, the founder of the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation. That's the place that runs the clinic that has been performing the HIV (and other STD) tests on sex industry workers (1200 tests per month), and uncovered the five positive tests in the past few weeks. The initial positive tests led to a (partial) moratorium on filming that probably prevented a much wider outbreak of HIV.

Dr. Mitchell has an unusual biography, having starred in adult films before earning her doctorate in human sexuality and opening the clinic. On May 2, she wrote an op-ed for the Times on how it might be possible to make condom use a more regular part of the adult film landscape. The key is to pressure the producers, directors, and distributors. According to her op-ed, "Two of the largest film companies, Vivid and Wicked Pictures, regularly use condoms and the other companies will if the actors insist on it." Dr. Mitchell does not think that a regulatory response to the current crisis by the state will help, as it will drive filming (back) underground.

As an alternative, she suggests a "seal of approval" be developed and awarded to films that are made using safe workplace and health practices. Mainstream hotel chains and cable companies could then be persuaded to show only films with the seal of approval, providing the financial incentive to filmmakers to employ the safe procedures. Sounds like a worthy proposal to me.

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