National Coalition Calls for Greater Emphasis on Prevention Efforts by Adult Film Industry


There is a lot of money and too little focus on prevention on sexually transmitted infections within the adult film industry, says the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD).

According to NCSD, the adult film industry creates somewhere between 4,000 and 11,000 films and grosses an estimated $13 billion annually. 

“Yet, evidence suggests that as a whole, the industry fails to take even the most basic steps to ensure its performers are protected from acquiring STDs, including HIV,” says a statement from NCSD.

Attempts to encourage the industry to regulate itself have for the most part failed, leading to the need for national regulation of the industry and multifaceted efforts to ensure enforcement.

The core mission of NCSD, a national, non-profit membership organization representing 65 state, territorial and large city health departments funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to carry out STD prevention and control programs, is to advance health through preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

NCSD’s statement comes on the heels of the revelation that an adult film performer in Los Angeles had tested positive for HIV, leading to a wider investigation to determine whether others were also infected and if infections were being spread on set. According to one report:

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has estimated that workers in the adult film industry are 10 times more likely to contract some sexually transmitted disease than members of the general public. Current federal law requires that porn actors are tested for HIV up to 30 days before showing up for filming.

NCSD, which works on prevention throughout the United States and among all populations, stated: “Because of our core mission as an organization, and in order to reduce the epidemic of STDs in the adult film industry, [we] support the following:

  • Enactment of federal and state mandates that would require the mandatory use of condoms in the production of adult films, medical monitoring paid for by the industry and that protects the confidentiality of the worker, and worker health and safety training.
  • Increased federal, state, and local resources and support for local, state, or national legislation that would improve the ability of health departments and Occupational Safety and Health agencies to investigate and control occupational exposures to infectious diseases and enforce workplace regulations in a timely manner.
  • Dedicated efforts to work with both the hospitality (e.g. hotel) industry and cable television providers that make adult films available to customers that would prohibit the distribution of films where condoms are not used by performers.
  • Vigorous enforcement of existing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other occupational standards to reduce exposure to infectious diseases within the adult film industry.

Increasing resources for investigation and enforcement of regulations seems to be an especially critical component of the recommendations.  Actors and public health organizations alike have criticized the industry for not adhering to existing regulations and “not everyone is surprised about the new scare,” writes David Usborne of The Independent.

[I]t comes on the heels of repeated warnings from health advocacy groups that a new outbreak was almost bound to happen, in part because state rules that mandate the use of condoms on set to protect actors and encourage safe sex practices among the public are widely disregarded.

“I knew it was going to happen. And how many years has it been?” Darren James, the adult film performer who was at the centre of the 2004 scare, told the Los Angeles Times. “They went right back to the same habits.”

James had tested negative shortly before appearing in a film in the spring of that year. Shortly afterwards a test came back positive. He was among 14 performers who were infected with the potentially lethal virus in that single outbreak.

“This is not an underground industry,” Mr Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation at a recent press conference. “The industry should and can be regulated if the political establishment has the courage to do it.”

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