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Group Says Rules Already Exist To Force Condoms On Porn Industry

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Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 3:27 PM

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The AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed a petition last week with the state Occupational Safety and Health Standards board asking it to enforce condom use at porn-industry shoots and noting that the state already regulates the transmission of blood-borne pathogens in medical settings.

"In our view the current regulation, which is about preventing the transmission of blood-borne pathogens in a work place -- most often in a hospital or medical setting -- also applies to the porn industry," AHF spokeswoman Lori Yeghiayan tells LA Weekly. "We're asking for compliance."

The mostly San Fernando Valley-based industry has seen three HIV outbreaks since 2004, with the AHF estimating as many as 25 performers since then becoming infected. Most straight shoots are done without condoms (although some of the larger porn studios, including Wicked Pictures, apparently require them). The industry has been self-regulating when it comes to health: Most on-the-map producers have agreed to hire talent that submits to regular HIV testing schedules and shows up on-set with clean bills of health.

The industry argues that if condoms are forced on it, production will go underground. In the age of the "long tail," porn is already a worldwide phenomenon with outside-the-Valley production happening everywhere from San Diego to Thailand. And that's something the industry can't control. In fact, it could make the argument that forcing condoms on the industry would push production out of our backyard, which could be bad for the economy. Adult Video News estimated in 2006 that the industry could be worth $13 billion a year. Compare that to mainstream Hollywood, which in 2009 had its best year ever. Its take? $10.4 billion.

Still, we're talking about safety here, and few workers in other industries roll the dice with their lives the way porn stars do without some serious state regulation. Hard hats are required at construction sites, so Jim-hats should be required on porn sets, says the AHF.

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