Positive HIV test halts porn shoots at companies

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - More than half a dozen pornographers in California’s multibillion-dollar adult entertainment industry have halted production after an actor tested positive for HIV _ and more shutdowns were expected.

Vivid Entertainment Group and Wicked Pictures were among the companies that announced production halts as a precaution.

“From Vivid’s perspective, there was no question that when we heard this, we immediately shut down production and said let’s get the facts and evaluate them before we move forward,” Steven Hirsch, the founder of Vivid, one of the largest makers of adult films, said Wednesday.

“Adult entertainment companies act responsibly, and no one wants to see another person test positive if there’s anything they can do to stop it,” he said.

Actors in movies by Wicked Pictures use condoms. Still, company president Steve Orenstein said two shoots were on hold and production depends 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 have 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 the 2004 outbreak, 25 cases of HIV have been discovered at the AIM clinic and at least 8 of those were adult film performers, said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, the communicable disease director of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

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 turnoff.

“We strongly feel that condom use should be required in this industry; just like a construction worker wouldn’t go into a construction site without a hard hat, an adult industry performer should not be having sexual acts unprotected without a condom,” said Kim-Farley.

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.

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

Health and workplace safety officials say they have called on the clinic where the case was discovered to share redacted records that would indicate an infected worker’s employment history, but the clinic has not complied.

Lawyers for the San Fernando Valley clinic said it was in full compliance with reporting and privacy laws, and health officials have overstepped their bounds in the past.

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