Criticism of Porn's HIV Scare Sparks Outrage at Manwin, the Adult Video Juggernaut That Employed Performer in Question | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Criticism of Porn's HIV Scare Sparks Outrage at Manwin, the Adult Video Juggernaut That Employed Performer in Question

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Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 5:55 PM

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Updated at the bottom with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's response. First posted at 5:09 p.m.

The company that employed a porn star who might be HIV-positive today said the man did not continue to work, nor were other performers exposed to him, after a test indicated he might have the virus that causes AIDS.

Manwin, owner of the popular Brazzers porn website, which was erroneously cited here and elsewhere as the performer's employer, says the actor was actually working in Miami for an affiliated site called Mofos (" World's Best Teen Amateur Porn & Milf Sex Gone Wild"). (A statement says Brazzers "was the first to unify content under a porn star network," and it lists Brazzers just under Manwin in its company footnotes, but a spokeswoman tells the Weekly that Brazzers is not a parent company but rather one of Manwin's many brands).

Manwin, one of the most-successful producers and distributors of contemporary porn, also stated that it wants a "retraction" of statements made yesterday by the head of the L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

AHF chief Michael Weinstein alleged to reporters during a conference call yesterday that the adult video industry was trying to cover up its latest HIV scare. He also argued that its response was less than what would be required by the circumstances of a public health scare outside of porn.

Already the industry trade group known as the Free Speech Coalition responded with its own demand for a retraction from Weinstein, noting that it was, in fact, the FSC that brought the positive test to light on Monday and organized a voluntary shut-down of porn production among its members , the major adult-video producers in L.A. and across the U.S.

Manwin:

Manwin and its producers have never attempted to hide any information or mislead anyone concerning the nature of the incident. We have acted as diligently as possible in a transparent manner in order to avoid and to mitigate any potential damages of any nature for our performers specifically and for the industry as a whole in accordance with the advice of our counsel.

More specifically, at no time did "Patient A" perform or provide any services for any of our producers after any test results were disclosed reflecting even the possibility of HIV exposure or infection.

Even though it is based in Luxembourg, with offices in L.A., Montreal and Hamburg, Manwin states that, yes, it is part of of the L.A.-based porn industry's health protocol, which requires that performers take STD tests once a month and prove to producers that they have a current, clean bill of health.

Manwin shoots porn in L.A., Las Vegas and Miami, and spokeswoman for the company told the Weekly.

The company also disputes Weinstein's assertion that the industry is dragging its feet in confirming the HIV-positive.

We are currently waiting for a final and clear result on whether or not "Patient A" has tested positive for HIV ... Until then, we cannot and will not tolerate any further malicious, unverified, inaccurate or misleading statements published by anyone.

Manwin also states, " ... We have at all times operated our business in strict compliance with all applicable state and federal laws."

That could be debated:

AHF has argued, and California's own workplace health officials concur, that federal workplace health law requires condom use for porn performers. They site a U.S. rule that states that employees shall not be exposed to blood-borne pathogens, including semen and vaginal secretions.

And while California officials have enforced condom use on-set in the past, even once fining Larry Flynt's Hustler-affiliated video company, they say they don't have the resources to be full-time prophylactic police.

AHF has used this latest HIV report to once again push for enforcement of condoms in the adult video industry. Its latest campaign is for an L.A. city ordinance that would force the city to require condom use as a condition of adult film shoot permits.

The industry has resisted condoms, saying people won't buy or download videos that depict condom use.

Manwin, meanwhile, has been cited as a game-changing company in porn, one of the leaders of its transformation from DVD sales and rentals to online subscriptions, downloads and viewing.

A New York magazine piece recounts the roots of what would become Manwin, saying it was all started by a group of foosball teammates in Montreal in 2007. The company evolved to become a network of sites, some of which are known as the YouTube of porn

The first key website for the friends, of Arab descent, was Brazzers, which the magazine notes was an inside joke of a word -- an "immigrant-Arabonics version of 'brothers.'"

Update: AIDS Healthcare Foundation honcho Michael Weinstein responded to Manwin's statement Thursday, saying that it confirms three things previously up in the air: That the patient was in Florida, that he works for a Brazzers-affiliated brand, and that there is at least a preliminary HIV-positive test.

He continued to hammer at the pace of the situation, saying it has been nearly a week since the positive first turned up and that confirmation of the man's HIV status should have been on the record by now.

Weinstein:

These new facts raise several alarming questions on this latest incident of HIV exposure in the adult film industry and as to both the industry's and public health officials' response. Key questions include what the adult industry's advocacy group the Free Speech Coalition's qualifications are for conducting what should be a public health investigation? Why do they seem to be controlling it, and why is it taking so long to confirm or refute the initial suspected case? Have on-camera sexual partners of the suspected HIV-infected actor have been notified and tested, and have public health authorities have [sic] been notified of the initial individual's infection to the extent required by law?

[@dennisjromero/djromero@laweekly.com]

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