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Porn Clinic AIM Closes For Good: Valley-Based Industry Scrambles to Find New STD Testing System

Updated after the jump: The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is calling on county health officials to enforce condoms at porn shoots in the absence of an STD testing regime.

It has been a saga much more juicy than any of porn's non-plots. Nearly three months after reopening as a private entity, AIM Healthcare, the clinic that tests adult performers for STDs, has shut down and filed for bankruptcy, industry sources confirmed to the Weekly.

We were told a privacy lawsuit challenging AIM's handling of patient records was the last straw for the clinic that was taken private and reopened in February following a December shutdown at the hands of state and county health officials.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, part of that suit, has been targeting AIM as part of its crusade against the industry's lack of condom use. Complicating the matter:

The leak of patient records via PornWikiLeaks. Some in the industry have argued that the leak could have only come from someone who had access to AIM's online database of performers who have been tested.

AIM maintained the database as a service to the industry: A porn star could get tested, and a producer could simply use her password and double check to see that the performer has been cleared to work.

AHF challenged that system, saying it violates patients' privacy rights. (It appeared that producers could have free reign on the database and check up on anyone, including folks not imminently up for roles).

The sudden shutdown leaves the industry without an STD safety net, which could play into the hands of AHF (you could always use condoms, they would argue).

"It isn't a good thing for the industry," Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, told the Weekly.

The FSC is the industry lobby. It held three meetings Friday with industry stakeholders to discuss how to move forward in the absence of AIM, which Duke told us is probably permanent.

"What is important is to make sure that we have not just a testing service in place

but also healthcare provider," she said.

Duke said the industry would like to maintain a similar system of testing -- where performers who show up for shoots have verified results on record -- but that AIM's online system could be revised following the PornWikiLeaks scandal.

Performers used to show up on set with a printout of their results. Duke said that's what will happen until a new clinic is found: Production, she said, won't shut down, but porn stars will have to show up with printouts of test results, which they can obtain from any certified clinic.

FSC is holding a board meeting tomorrow to decide how to go forward.

"The industry will be fine," Duke said.

Update: The AIDS Healthcare Foundation Tuesday afternoon called on the county Department of Public Health to step in and enforce condom use at porn sets in the absence of AIM's testing regime.

AHF honcho Michael Weinstein:

Now that AIM has closed--and the industry 'fig leaf' is gone--the responsible thing for the industry to do is to put performers' health first and require condom-use on all adult film sets. Testing adult film performers for HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases is important, but has never been an effective substitute for safer sex and condom use. Performers were poorly served by AIM and are poorly served by an industry that places profits above worker safety. If the porn industry won't protect its own workers, it is time for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health--the government body charged with safeguarding the health and welfare of its citizens--to enforce condom use on all adult film sets in the County.

AHF has argued, correctly, that the state, county and even city can require condoms on-set. State workplace health officials told us previously that in fact they do require and enforce what they see as federal rules protecting workers from bloodborne pathogens.

However, enforcement is the key word. The state doesn't have the resources. The city has stated it can enforce condom use but that such enforcement is more for the county and state.

That leaves the county, which seems to point the finger at the state. In fact county health chief Jonathan Fielding said he doesn't have the jurisdiction (and pointed back to the state).

The industry, for its part, says mandatory condoms would force production out of state and underground, where conditions could be far less safe than they are in the Valley.

First posted at 12:53 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3.

[Gawker; mikesouth.com].


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