1 in 4 Porn Stars Has Had Gonorrhea or Chlamydia, UCLA Study Says
L.A. Weekly file photo by Nate "Igor" Smith
About 1 in 4 adult video performers has contracted gonorrhea or chlamydia, a UCLA study unveiled today at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014 STD Prevention Conference in Atlanta.
The AIDS Healthcare foundation says the eye-opening data flies in the face of claims by the industry that performers have fewer incidences of STDs than the general public.
The study, titled "Adult Film Performers Transmission Behaviors and STI Prevalence," looked at 366 performers, 75 percent of whom are women:
(Makes sense: A majority of straight performers are women).
Researchers at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health's Behavioral Epidemiology Research Group looked into the sex lives and drug use of the porn stars between August 2012 and June 2013.
The average number of years on the job among participants was three. The average number of scenes they had done was 80.
Among the findings: 23.7 percent of the subjects had contracted gonorrhea or chlamydia. It's not clear if the workers got the STDs on the job, however. According to a summary:
... Most performers had sexual partners outside of the industry with few reporting consistent condom use within the context of any partnership ...
More than half (58.7 percent) of the performers used marijuana, the study says. One in 5 used cocaine. Nearly 1 in 5 used ecstasy or Xanax. One-third said they had used drugs in the last three months.
More than 15 percent reported that they had to give sexual favors in order to get work, UCLA says. More than 16 percent said they had not been paid for work. One in 10 said they had been hurt on the job. And more than 13 percent said they ended up doing something on-set that they did not want to do, the study says.
Nearly 60 percent had done scenes involving vaginal or anal ejaculation, according to UCLA. Nearly half (42.4 percent) had done multipartner "gang-bang" scenes, the study says.
Two-thirds (69 percent) said they never used condoms on the job, despite city and county laws mandating them for porn in most of Los Angeles beginning in 2013.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is touting the study as a reason why lawmakers should support a bill proposed by L.A. area Assemblyman Isadore Hall. AB 1576 would require condoms on-set for adult film production across California.
AHF president Michael Weinstein:
This study confirms the extremely high STD risk facing adult film workers each day as they go about their work on adult film sets throughout California and elsewhere. Unscrupulous producers place these actors in jeopardy every time they require - or intimidate - these performers to work without condoms or other workplace safeguards. These adult film workers deserve better - as this study clearly confirms.
We reached out to the industry's trade group, the Free Speech Coalition, but we had yet to hear back.
The business has long argued that its voluntary system of testing performers twice a month for STDs works. It also says that consumers don't want to buy condom porn, and that requiring it would force production underground, where it would be less safe.
[Added at 1:06 p.m.]: Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, discounted the study and aimed her comments at AHF chief Weinstein. Here are highlights from her long response:
This wasn't about STIs or about worker safety - it an effort to shut down the adult film industry. The data on STIs is fairly weak. In fact, it's curious that he only reported on gonorrhea and chlamydia when in performers test for a full slate of STIs every 14 days. Weinstein also noted that they were shifting from HIV to STIs, perhaps because their HIV numbers don't stand don't stand up to scrutiny.
... Michael Weinstein and AIDS Healthcare Foundation have a long history of generating bad data expressly for political gain.
... If you compare adult performers to the population as a whole (that is, including a data set that includes preteens, monogamous couples and seniors), you can manufacture data that looks intimidating. However, if you compare adult performers to other sexually active adults in their age range, you actually see a lower incidence of STIs.
... Nearly 700 adult performers have spoken out against the bill that threatens to make them less safe. We the suspect the chorus opposing him will get even louder after this. He has repeatedly called adult film performers as 'public health crisis,' and a threat to non-performer populations, despite any accurate data to support it. We don't expect data to be much different. It makes for great headlines but bad policy.