I hopped on Twitter to check out my feed and saw this piece in Time’s Healthland about a California clinic run by the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation being denied its license by the Department of Health. There’s more on what happened thereafter, but this entry’s about that article.
Particularly, the following parts…
As Healthland previously noted, the convention on gay-porn sets is to use condoms as a safeguard against HIV; straight-porn actors do not use condoms, and instead rely on routine HIV testing to ensure negative-status.
Donny Long, a former porn actor who runs the XXXfilmjobs website, said testing is not enough to protect performers in straight films from the risks taken by men who also work in gay porn. At the same time, he said, mandating condoms would drive straight porn production underground.
Forgive me if I’m missing something obvious in what I’m about to say. I’m aware there are companies (and “independents”) that don’t use condoms, but I hadn’t considered until this moment that any significant part of the industry would base the use of condoms on whether the actors were engaged in straight or gay sex.
While men who have sex with men account for the largest percentage of new HIV infections, let’s not ignore the fact that those who engage in heterosexual sex make up the second largest percentage ahead of injection drug users and rarer modes of viral transmission, like being born to a woman with HIV.
Point being that it’s not as if straight people can’t get it and therefore have no need to wear protection during sex, especially if they’re engaging in sex with a number of partners that’s well above average – like performers in the adult industry.
I’m bothered by the fact that any company truly concerned with the health of its performers would put forth the convention that testing is enough for straight actors. Testing alone is only a partial preventative measure.
At best, it keeps someone who has it from giving it to someone else by removing him/her from the equation. It does not, however, protect someone else from getting it if someone slips under the radar no more than a pregnancy test can be used as a contraceptive.
And it’s unsettling – though not the least bit unexpected – that the issue of straight porn’s position in its target market changing for the worse would even be raised as a viable consideration for why condoms are “bad”.
I’m equally bothered by the presumption that if there is to be any health concern among straight actors, it’s only because of crossovers. Heterosexuals are perfectly capable of being infected with HIV without it being a gay performer’s fault.
Note that by “gay performer” I mean someone who performs in gay porn. Not a performer who is gay. I make that distinction because there are plenty of male performers who act in gay porn yet identify as heterosexual.
My question is about the lack of clarity in Healthland’s statement in my first quote. Are they saying that gay porn sets generally use condoms only as a safeguard against HIV and don’t make it a practice to have their performers tested?
If so, that creates a valid assessment of the increased health risk that crossover performers pose. Why gay porn producers would be less diligent with HIV testing considering their performers are at higher risk is beyond me, but if that’s the case, does it mean that crossovers aren’t tested before straight shoots either?
I can’t imagine that straight porn producers would say, “He doesn’t have to be tested because he does gay porn and they don’t test him there”, especially if they already deem gay performers to be a specific health risk. That’s counterintuitive.
If testing is the convention on straight sets, my assumption is that would extend to anyone being brought to work on the set, including a crossover. If the crossovers are being tested prior to working with the straight performers and dealt with in the same way according to the test results, wouldn’t the risk be equivalent?
Putting it another way, if the assumption among straight porn producers is that testing is enough to protect their actors because it identifies infected performers, why would that assumption differ for gay porn actors if they’re also being tested?
I’m not sure if I’m making sense, so I’ll just get to my point, which is that anyone who fucks other people for a living should be getting tested and using protection. If the viewers are turned off by condoms, that’s a risk you have to take – one that’s far less costly than the risk of HIV, leading to the one quote that left me hopeful…
But Chi Chi LaRue, a longtime Los Angeles-based porn director, said the straight porn industry would be best protected by expanding condom use. LaRue left Vivid Entertainment when it stopped using condoms, and now requires condom use at the gay porn company she co-owns. LaRue said testing provides the illusion of protection in straight porn. ”I consider every single person that I work with, whether gay or straight, to be a risk,” she said. “So I protect everybody on my sets”.
On a completely unnecessary personal note, I don’t usually notice if the guy is protected or not in porn unless it’s during group scenes when he ain’t wrapped and he’s still dipping it in every hole he can find.
Whether he’s “clean” or not, it kills my libido and grosses me out as much as the prospect of sleeping with a chick who just had a dozen dudes dump their load in her like Tonka trucks hauling yogurt.