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Porn's STD Rates Spark Battle

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Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 8:04 AM
click to enlarge FILE PHOTO OF RON JEREMY (RIGHT) AND REMY LACROIX (LEFT) BY GUSTAVO TURNER/L.A. WEEKLY
  • File photo of Ron Jeremy (right) and Remy Lacroix (left) by Gustavo Turner/L.A. Weekly
The porn industry's trade group and the L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation have been battling over the truth behind adult video's STD issues, or lack thereof, in the days since AHF trumpeted a new study that found that about 1 in 4 porn stars have had gonorrhea or chlamydia.

See also: 1 in 4 Porn Stars Has Had Gonorrhea or Chlamydia, UCLA Study Says

The business' Free Speech Coalition says the study, conducted by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health's Behavioral Epidemiology Research Group, was purposely skewed to make performers look bad.

According to an FSC statement:
Rather than only using data from the regulated facilities where adult performers test every two weeks, and which would provide a true random sampling, AHF solicited a portion of their participants instead from an STI treatment clinic, which they knew would skew numbers higher.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation says the study was conducted by contacting random performers at two clinics: one (Talent Testing Service) where performers go to get tested twice-a-month for STDs under the industry's own voluntary protocol, and another (West Oaks Urgent Care Center) that provides testing and treatment, according to AHF spokesman Ged Kenslea.

The business argues that the second clinic, West Oaks, is only a place where one would go for treatment (and not for testing), thus negatively affecting the results because those participants would almost definitely have had something. 

Kenslea told us a majority of the 366 respondents were found at Talent Testing Service, where much of the industry goes for routine testing.

The trade group says AHF is behind the study and that researchers twisted the results to fit the foundation's mission to get porn to adopt condom use (AHF is behind a state bill that would mandate condoms in adult film throughout California).

See also: Porn's Condom Problem Keeps Growing

The FSC says too many subjects (1 in 5) in the study hadn't shot an adult film in a month, making the sample unrepresentative of those in the industry. (However: Many performers can go for stretches without work, especially these days, and many quickly drop out of the business).

And while criticizing the study for asking subjects about drug use and prostitution, the FSC decries researchers' inability to distinguish STDs connected to off-set liaisons from those contracted through sex work (though that might be impossible, save for unreliable self-reporting).

According to the the coalition's statement:
 ... Over 70% of the participants said they didn't use a condom in their private life, and another 23% said they had exchanged drugs/sex for money. AHF made no effort to distinguish STIs that came from adult film workplaces from those contracted off-set.
click to enlarge GUSTAVO TURNER FOR L.A. WEEKLY
  • Gustavo Turner for L.A. Weekly
Of course, one of the arguments for mandatory condoms is that some performers have been known to freelance off-set as prostitutes, thus possibly complicating any clean bill of health they might have received under the business' testing protocol.

See also: Porn Defends the Money Shot

Perhaps FSC's most valid criticism of the study is that it hasn't really been published in its entirety to include, as the organization puts it, "the methodology ... fully." (Strangely, FSC also calls the study "shameful in its methodology"). Indeed, AHF, in publicizing the research, has only pointed us to what FSC calls "an infographic poster."

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation stands by UCLA's work and emphasized that it mirrored a 2012 study that also found a 1-in-4 "infection rate" among porn stars.

The foundation told us that while 1 in 4 performers had experienced gonorrhea or chlamydia, only 2.2 percent of L.A. County's 20-to-29-year-old population had done so, making porn stars' rate with these particular STDs more than 10 times higher than that of their peers.

Kenslea says:
How many times are researchers going to have to come to the same conclusions before the industry finally admits that testing - which is NOT prevention - is not working?
The FSC, on the other hand, says AHF is trying to kill porn as we know it:
 ... It's clear from this study that they have no respect for performers themselves, and that their ultimate goal is not to improve the industry, but to shut it down.
Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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