But now the adult entertainment industry is at a standstill because another performer has tested positive for the AIDS virus.
Adult film actress Cameron Bay has worked in the industry since 2010, not even on a regular basis. But her career is on hold. She tested positive for HIV. Her diagnosis has halted all porn production. So far, no other actors she’s worked with have tested positive, but performing in porn can mean taking your life into your own hands.
“Animals have more protection in the making of films than porn performers,” said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “How many cases do there have to be before we take it seriously?”
Gina Rodriguez, a former porn actress, quit the business in part because of the fear of disease.
“You know, I think it’s a ticking time bomb,” she said. “It really is. It’s going to get worse. It’s not going to get any better.”
This has happened before. In 2010, a porn actor’s HIV test came up positive. The industry adopted some safeguards, requiring all performers to get an HIV test once a month. California’s division of occupational safety and health, the same group that requires construction workers to wear hardhats, also requires the adult film industry to protect workers from hazards associated with blood-borne pathogens. The regulations clearly state employers must provide and ensure employees use appropriate personal protective equipment, including condoms, dental dams, gloves and eye protection. But those rules are rarely enforced. The industry itself has been rigorous about HIV testing, but not about condom use.
And it seems to have everything to do with money. Steve Hirsch, CEO of Vivid Entertainment, one of the biggest producers, spoke with “Nightline” in 2009.
“The truth is that when people watch adult movies they are watching it for the fantasy,” explained Hirsch. “They don’t want to see condoms. Condoms in adult movies just don’t sell as well. That’s just a fact.”
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation spearheaded a measure requiring condom use in L.A. County. It passed in November of last year.
The porn industry sued to overturn this decision, saying it was unconstitutional. But a federal judge recently rejected their claim. But still, of the major adult entertainment producers, only one studio requires condom use for all their contract stars: Wicked Pictures.
“Most of the companies frown upon it,” said Rodriguez, the former porn actress. “If you’re coming in saying, ‘You know, I want to wear a condom,’ chances are they’re going to take the girl that’s going to do it without the condom.”
She is thankful she made it out of the business with a clean bill of health.