Group Tries To Force Condoms On Porn Stars (Good Luck With That)

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has been on a tear against the porn industry and its often unhealthy ways. On Friday it convened a UCLA symposium of health-care groups in a step toward getting the state to force male porn stars to use condoms.

God bless them for it, but it's going to be a harder row to hoe than putting Ron Jeremy on a diet. The porn industry and state legislators have faced this issue before: An HIV outbreak in 2004 saw four performers test positive. There was a lot of talk about requiring condoms, but virtually no one in the state legislature wanted to touch the issue. The latest industry HIV outbreak, the third by our count, happened in June.

In 2004 a California assemblyman from Tahoe City attempted (warning: explicit and NSFW language) to introduce a bill that would have put Jim-hats on all male performers in state-made porn, but it went nowhere, and a spokesman said porn lobbyists "have enough clout" to make the job of regulating the industry politically difficult.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation associate director of communications Lori Yeghiayan says time has changed and momentum is building to protect the employees of porn in the same way the state protects construction workers. "In truth," she tells the Weekly, "it's a money making business, and worker safety should be regulated like any other business."

Yeghiayan notes that porn workers confront not injury or stress but the possibility of death when they work without condoms. "HIV, while things have changed and there are effective medications, it still can be a fatal disease," she said. "There is no cure."

The California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has active investigations open into unsafe practices on porn sets as a result of complaints levied by the foundation, Yeghiayan says. "We filed complaints with Cal/OSHA on those grounds -- the spread of blood-borne pathogens in the workplace," she said.

"It is something that we will continue to press them on."

The Westwood symposium Friday also included representatives from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the county Commission on HIV, AIDS Project Los Angeles, Health Officers Association of California, the office of county supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas, the office of state Sen. Gil Cedillo, the city of Los Angeles' AIDS Coordinator's Office, former porn star Darren James, who is HIV-positive, and Sacramento lobbyist Rand Martin of Rose & Kindel.

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