Just recently federal health officials released the latest national statistics on sexually transmitted diseases – and the news is not good. STDs cases in the U.S. are now at a historic high, and Los Angeles County’s STD infection rates are some of the highest in California and the nation.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Proposition 60 on the Nov. 8 ballot is a workplace safety and public health protection measure for dealing with the STD epidemic, particularly in the adult film industry. In this industry one in four performers has an STD and rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea among performers are, respectively, 34 and 64 times greater than they are in the general population.
Prop. 60 will strengthen the tools available to Cal/OSHA, the state’s workplace safety watchdog, to enforce the existing – but widely ignored – California health rule requiring condoms to be worn in adult films. That rule is based on the best thinking of health professionals. For them, condoms are the gold standard for protecting adult film performers, and the wider public as well, from STDs.
And let there be no mistake: the diseases contracted in the adult film studios don’t always stay in the studios or in the adult film ‘family.’ In one case widely-publicized last year, an adult film actor got a clean bill of health from an HIV test and had sex with 17 individuals (including five who were not in the adult film industry) in 22 days before it was discovered he had HIV. The test got it wrong. Two of his partners subsequently got HIV. It’s just one telling example of adult film industry diseases leak into the general population and the fallibility of testing.
Some like myself, as a former adult film performer, believe the sexual habits of adult film viewers – especially young ones – can be shaped by what they see on-screen. There is no question adult films glamorize random, unprotected (condom-less) sex which, as health professionals know, is very risky.
So condoms in adult films is not just a workplace safety issue. It’s also a public health concern.
Prop. 60 can help Cal/OSHA do a better job of enforcing the condoms-in-porn rule.
Today, adult film studio bosses regularly ignore this rule – and bully and blackball performers who want to protect themselves with condoms. Why? Because the industry believes condoms in adult films ruin the experience for customers. Turned off viewers hurt profits. It’s all about money for the adult film industry even if condom-less sex puts its workers’ health in serious jeopardy.
Prop. 60 will turn up the heat on the adult film industry. It would extend the statute of limitations for filing complaints against industry violators to one year (now it’s six months); it will distributors liable for marketing condom-less films (now the law only affects producers); it will allow performer-whistleblowers to sue their bosses for health violations – if Cal/OSHA does not do so; and it will require producers to pay for the cost of STD screening tests for performers (now producers make the performers pay!).
Mandatory condom use in adult films is endorsed by the California Nurses Association, the American Sexual Health Association and the California Medical Assn., among many others.
Join the long-list of health and medical groups who know the best thing for young workers and for the public’s health is to vigorously enforce the existing, common sense rule requiring condoms in adult films. And vote for Prop. 60 to make this happen.
Derrick Burts is a former adult film performer and an advocate for workers’ rights. He lives in Riverside County with his fiancé and their infant child.Posted - Copyright © 2022 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.