Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sex Workers, Porn Stars are Slaves

Sexual diseases 'rampant' in Californian porn industry
17:33 16 June 2009 by Peter Aldhous
For similar stories, visit the Epidemics and Pandemics , HIV and AIDS and Love and Sex Topic Guides
Experts have called for the Californian porn industry to do more to care for workers' health (Image: Adrian Dennis/Rex Features)
The porn industry of California's San Fernando Valley is under pressure to clean up its act, following the revelation last week that one unnamed female performer has tested positive for HIV. And according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, she is just the tip of the iceberg.
Since 2004, county health officials say that at least 22 performers have tested HIV positive. The true figure could be higher, as reports depend on people admitting their occupation to testing labs.
Over the same period, there were 2378 positive tests for chlamydia, 1357 for gonorrhoea and 15 for syphilis in Los Angeles County among people describing themselves as adult film performers.
"Sexually transmitted diseases are rampant," says Jonathan Fielding, the county's director of public health.
Now you see it…
It is an unnecessary epidemic, says Paula Tavrow, a specialist in public health at the University of California, Los Angeles. Even though consumers prefer "bareback" scenes – those without the use of condoms – she argues that modern post-production techniques allow prophylactics to be used and subsequently edited out. There's absolutely no reason that this has to be an unsafe industry, she says.
In theory, performers should already be protected under California Division of Occupational Safety and Health regulations covering exposure to body fluids. But enforcement is difficult, because production companies typically contract out shoots to small operations which shoot in rented venues and are hard to trace.
Tavrow has helped draft legislation that would demand condom use and require inert substances to be used in place of body fluids. But with politicians unwilling to risk associating their name with the porn industry, she has been unable to find a sponsor for the bill in the California state legislature