Yet another porn actor has tested HIV-positive, sending alarm bells across the multi-billion dollar industry.
Officials at FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit office that issues the permits, said they could not suspend productions without city authorization. The City Council is in recess until Sept. 6.
But production has been temporarily halted in Los Angeles, and the voluntary shutdown affects porn producers in the San Fernando Valley, the heart of the American porn industry. Inevitably there are renewed calls for mandatory condom use.
In California, adult film performers must be tested for sexually transmitted diseases every 30 days and show proof of a negative test before they perform, according to voluntary industry standards.
Diane Duke, executive director of the adult film trade association Free Speech Coalition, said tests were being conducted on the performer to confirm the diagnosis, but she declined to give the performer's name, age or gender.
The case was found in an out-of-state clinic that doesn't report to California health officials, said Duke, who would not reveal how her group learned of the case either.
The positive test results will be confirmed by more sensitive testing methods, but details of the case, including the performer's name, age and sex, will not be released. It is also unclear how many sexual partners might be at risk.
"The average American male has seven female sexual partners in a lifetime. But it's possible for a male to have seven sexual partners in a single day on porn movie set," said Michael Weinstein, president of The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "Because this is a network that's kind of inbred, the spread of disease could be exponential."
The HIV scare comes less than one month after the launch of a new online sexual health database aimed at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among porn actors through mandatory testing. To be listed in the database -- a requisite for getting work -- porn actors must get tested every 30 days and present a clean bill of health. But routine testing does not prevent STDs from creeping in, it is pointed out.
"Testing is not a substitute for condom use, and it never will be," said Michael Weinstein, president of The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "No test can detect HIV from the moment of infection. There will always be a window period," which might not reflect recent infection.
"How many performers must become infected with HIV and other serious STDs before the industry will clean up its act and government will do the right thing?" Weinstein wondered, adding that the latest reported infection shows an "outrageous disregard for the health and safety of performers and the community at large."
The industry saw a similar shutdown in late 2010, after actor Derrick Burts was diagnosed with HIV.
Burts has since gone on to advocate for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's push for mandatory condom use in the porn industry.
The Foundation is trying to get a measure placed on the city's June 2012 ballot that would require adult film performers to use condoms for porn filmmakers to obtain L.A. city filming permits.
The group must submit a petition with at least 41,138 qualifying signatures by Dec. 23 to place the measure on the ballot. If they succeed, it will be the first time the issue — litigated and disputed during state regulatory meetings — would come before voters.