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At least 16 previously unpublicized HIV cases in porn film performers, public health officials say [Updated]

6:08 PM | June 11, 2009

Los Angeles County officials released public health data this afternoon indicating that 16 previously unpublicized cases of HIV had been confirmed in adult film industry performers since 2004 when an outbreak shut down porn production for a month.

The 2004 cases -- involving a male porn star, three actresses he had worked with and an unrelated case in a transsexual performer -- drew intense scrutiny to safety practices in the industry.

The newly released data brings the number of known HIV cases in adult film performers to 22 since 2004, including a porn actress who tested positive late last week. At least 10 of those cases involved men who had sex with other men, according to health officials.

In all, 16 men and 5 women who worked as adult film industry performers contracted HIV between 2004 and 2008, according to Los Angeles County Department of Public Health data requested by The Times.

Between 1998 and 2003, 14 confirmed HIV cases were reported among adult film performers, according to the health department.

The previously unpublicized cases will probably shock adult industry workers, who repeatedly have described the new case as the first since 2004. It was not immediately clear whether any of the previously unpublicized HIV infections involved workplace transmission of the virus.

Officials from the San Fernando Valley-based Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation released more details this afternoon about the most recent case. The actress tested for HIV on June 4 and the first positive result was returned Saturday, according to a statement from AIM founder Sharon Mitchell on her clinic’s website. The woman had last tested negative for HIV on April 29, Mitchell said.

Three others with connections to the woman have so far tested negative for HIV, according to the statement, including two men described as "industry partners."

A man who worked with the woman on Friday, the day before she received her positive HIV test results, tested negative Tuesday, according to Mitchell. He is scheduled to be tested again June 19.

Another man tested "not detected" for HIV on Monday, the statement said. He had tested HIV negative on May 13, Mitchell said. The man is scheduled to test again on June 22. In addition, the girlfriend of one of the men last tested negative on May 19, according to the statement.

“Rumor is rampant when the words HIV and porn are in the same sentence; the media is like a moth to a flame,” Mitchell said. “We are finding that many clients, patients and companies are tempted to discuss this delicate matter with the world for whatever personal or professional gain. Fact is, that we are still awaiting final confirmation on the patient Zero, who was given a positive result on Saturday 6/6/09.”

She also dismissed rumors in the industry that AIM workers had given the woman a negative result in error allowing her to work and expose others.

“This too, is not possible, as there was no result available either positive or negative until 6/6/09,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell told AVN, an adult industry website, on Wednesday that the clinic had recently changed its policies on disclosure of new cases. "What we do is just handle everything privately unless there's a widespread problem," she said.

[Updated at 8 p.m.: Dr. Colin Hamblin, AIM's medical director, provided a different timeline of events later today. Hamblin said the porn actress first tested HIV positive on June 4 and worked the following day for reasons he said were still being investigated. A second positive result came back Saturday. And the clinic is awaiting results of a third and final confirmatory test, he said.

Hamblin described the woman as having had two recent sexual partners, a fellow porn actor who worked with her on June 5 and her boyfriend, who is not in the porn industry. Those men have had sexual intercourse with an additional six people, who have all been notified and offered testing, he said.]

--Kimi Yoshino and Rong-Gong Lin II

Related stories:

Porn industry healthcare clinic not cooperating, public health officials say

Porn actress tests positive for HIV

From the archives:

2 HIV Cases Put a Scare into Porn

See No Evil: In California's unregulated porn film industry, an alarming number of performers are infected with HIV and other STDs. And nobody seems to care.

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The LA Times is engaging in irresponsible journalism. The LA Public Health department has no evidence that that 16 "unreported" cases were actually active actors in film production companies that follow the AIM testing protocols.

When actors want to work in the legitimate adult film industry, they must present negative HIV results no more than 30 days old. That testing protocol has uncovered some individuals who were HIV+ but have never appeared in any legitimate porn film. Most of those 16 cases were men have sex with men-and gay production companies have only recently started using the AIM testing protocols.

Instead of blasting AIM, LA Public Health would do better to promote expanded use of STD testing in aspects of adult entertainment and sexually active communities where STD testing is less regularly practiced.

Using condoms seems like a no brainer. What's a crime is all of these adult film actors spreading stds! With a world wide epidemic of HIV and the potential for stds like gonnorhea becoming untreatable with antibiotics the adult film industry could be doing a positive public service by promoting safe sex. Why is safe sex viewed as a turn off by the adult film industry?

This is really depressing. The women who act in these films are being terribly exploited both physically and financially. The porn industry preys on the weak and vulnerable who are by definition the least capable of standing up for themselves. I realize that the actors prefer this career to the alternatives they available to them, but some arm of CA government should step up and and at the very least make sure they're not put in grave danger every time they perform. Mandatory condom use would seem to be the best solution.

This is in response to Marcia:

Government regulation is never the answer. The government is not the savior or the guardian angel of the people. This industry can, and does regulate itself. How do you think they came upon these results? It was through regulating that performers take tests like this. The performers know the risk, they take the risk. Some of them ignore the risk, that is their choice. You don't need a bunch of politicians and another bureaucracy making laws to "protect" people. How about having the people protect themselves through their own volition?

Unfortunately, the industry does exploit young women and men. Every one of them is an adult that can make their own decisions. (I know that there have been exceptions in the past) You can't give me the argument that they don't know what they're doing, they do. They crave whatever the industry brings them. Mostly it's the money, we know that. they might not be fully aware of the repercussions of their actions, but they know what they are doing.

As consumer of Adult DVD's I find this story very depressing.
The industry should be doing everything in it's power to prevent STD transmission.
The fact is the Adult industry has enormous effects on it's viewers; yet caters to the lowest common denominator.
Which is why educated consumers like me are always asking for "production values."
A decent script; some good acting; and plausibility would go a long way.
There's nothing wrong with making a safe sex video; in fact it would help the industry.

Kevin--"Why is this industry legal at all? "

I've always wondered the same thing. Money is exchanged for sex. Put a camera in the room and its art I guess.

There's no way they can police the porn industry to keep it clean. They might as well accept a certain number of people will contract cooties from time to time. No one wants to watch condom porn. I watch a lot of solo female or lez flicks, but the advent of 'all scenes must have anal' demand there's just as much chance of catching cooties in lez.

I never understood why women allow themselves to be treated like meat anyway. form your own companies. These 4 guys on 1 girl vids with choking, jackrabbit thrusting & spitting are pretty sad. I can only imagine the odds of contracting cooties with those gangbang flicks. Pretty scary.

I hope Sasha Grey does more solo stuff now! Hate her boy/girl scenes but love to look at that stunning body.

"Mom From The Valley": If the porn industry leaves California, we will have lost one of the last prospering industries we still have, and the San Fernando Valley would turn into the most economically depressed area in the USA. Why do you want to betray your 'hood?

Who's that lady? (Who's that ladyyyyy?)

BTW, I don't know why "Mom from the Valley" thinks mandating the use of condoms would be the end of porn. Plenty of pornos involve the use of condoms.... or so I've heard.

Sorry forgot to add, when you get to site, click on the 1rst video entitled Dead Porn Stars Memorial.

http://www.myspace.com/shelleylubben

If any girls are in the business reading this, I hope you will get out, never lose hope that you can turn it all around. You all deserve better and you don't need these loser scumbag producer's using you as a cash cow until you are all used up and then thrown out like garbage. It's never too late! We all make wrong choices and mistakes but there is nothing so bad that God can't turn all around for you. He loves you just as you are...He say's "Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." And He will, anyhow sorry, I didn't mean to be preachy, I just hate so much to hear of girls being abused like this. Go to the site I am posting and get help and God bless!

Porn is so gross and so very, very sad at the same time. I found this ministry the other day linked off of a christian site and I hope many that read this article will go visit. The lady, Shelly, is a former porn star and now she helps girls get out of the business and has all kind of great services to help people coming out of this lifestyle. I want to say that I was SHOCKED at how many suicides, drug overdoses and death by HIV there are. Shelly has a video that shows all the dead porn stars and what they died from and it is sad. Maybe if people saw what this industry really is all about, just maybe some would stop watching porn. It hurts everyone in the end. Here is the link and keep in mind that the porn star you are watching on your video tonight is more than likely sick or dead. How sexy is that?! http://www.myspace.com/shelleylubben

Hey Pete, I respect your opinion but disagree. I never said that the majority of American’s don’t like porn. I use to watch it. I enjoyed it for a little while but then it left such emptiness in my heart that my husband and I decided to change. I’m not a hypocrite. I know you can see free porn on the Internet. I did my own thing back in the day -- I just see and hear how porn ruins people’s lives. Remember Pete, the big wigs running these porn companies and Websites live in mansions and are filthy rich from women (and men) slowly selling their souls. They don’t care if their employees get HIV and die!! This affects everyone in one way or another – I use to kid myself into thinking that I can do drugs and watch porn and no one gets hurt. It almost destroyed my marriage and my soul. Also, Pete this is an open forum – inviting honest opinions from both sides (yours and mine).

This comments here are ridiculous. Conservatives etc all rage about this but are the first to say get government out of business. This is big business. 12 billion dollars a year and no porn star or director makes that money. The major porn companies are multi-million companies and some are traded on the stock market. The distribution of porn is also big business (ie hotels) and most porn is hosted and made available through common Internet distribution methods (ie big money to those who control it).

As for the legality, the company pays to "film" people having sex not to have sex. In many cases as long as the director doesn't have physical contact everything is fine.

Also this country is based on capitalism......if it sells and people are willing to purchase it (in overwhelming numbers) then shut-up and grow-up. You can't have capitalism for things you like and Fascism for things you don't like. You won't to get rid or porn.....stop watching it.

I think M, Marcia, mom in the valley & Maxi might all be the same troll.

oh, I'll fall for that bait, what the heck.....

are you seriously that naive & stupid to think the majority of Americans do not like porn ? The only reason people don't speak up about is because of the bully pulpit stigma attached to it (hypocrisy is rampant). You can thank porn for VHS, DVD, online shopping, internet video streaming, IM, & in fact, most internet technologies. Get off your high & mighty pulpit & let people run their own lives. It's attitudes like yours that have ruined America & made us lose our liberties.

just for the record: Pornography is not bad, People are.

I do hope legislators force condoms in California and that the Valley will lose its multi-billion dollar porn industry. I deplore that most of the porn is filmed here in the Valley (my community) and distributed all over the world from my community. I’m sad that women and men are so blinded by money/lust that they don’t want to believe that they can get this horrible disease. Porn is an addicting, filthy cancer to all people and society!

Why is this industry legal at all? Prostitution is illegal. It seems apparent that this industry exploits messed-up young people. The line should be drawn at real (not simulated) sex. Once that line is crossed, everyone involved should be cited for prostitution. If violations are repeated, all assets should be seized. If they move their "lucrative" industry to another state, that is a good thing. If the rate of disease transmission were this high in any other industry, it would have been shut down a long time ago.

obmode, you are spewing MISINFORMATION.

Pretty much everything you say is bull: AIDS is caused by the HIV virus, period. And you're really showing that you know absolutelynothing when you say the ELISA test is "the same" test as the one that is used to detect drug use. The ELISA test can be used to test different substances, depending on which antibody you use. If you use antibodies to HIV coat proteins, you detect HIV.....and if you use antibodies to some other substance, you detect that other substance instead. Do you understand? It's fairly specific for one or another substance- that's the whole point. There are tens of thousands of antibodies that can be used in an ELISA test.

If you don't even understand a very simple biochemical test like this, how are we supposed to take you seriously when you criticize scientists who actually know what they're talking about, and offer your "alternative treatments"? It's ridiculous.

AIM's Sharon Mitchell is essentially a mail order 'PhD'.
Why anyone refers her to as "doctor" is dubious.

If you want competence you don’t rely on wannabe doctors.

I do NOT care what people do in the privacy of their own life as long as abuse of a minor or otherwise does NOT take place. Having said that, like anything involving sex, it MUST be regulated. It shows one, I think, why laissez fair anything does not work. It does not work because people are still people and while some will be moral and do the right thing others will not and the safety of the populous at large is compromised. Making pornography, prostitution too and also drugs illegal is not the answer but making it legal subjects those industries which have a biological impact on the human body and more than that have an impact on the biological health of all of us will mean that some oversight will help to protect public health.

Unregulated sex and drugs too affect ALL of us which is why it is essential that it not be repressed and pushed under the rug. No one knows who is homosexual or who is heterosexual or who even is bisexual. Further, it does not matter and does no good to hang blame like an albatross around a group's neck. The larger issue is to have the public protected and ONLY government can do that NOT by making it illegal but by making it legal AND regulated. Like Wall Street these things are about making money and whenever that is concerned greed is the overwhelming motivator. The public left to its own devices comes in a distant second.

I do NOT care what people do in the privacy of their own life as long as abuse of a minor or otherwise does NOT take place. Having said that, like anything involving sex, it MUST be regulated. It shows one, I think, why laissez fair anything does not work. It does not work because people are still people and while some will be moral and do the right thing others will not and the safety of the populous at large is compromised. Making pornography, prostitution too and also drugs illegal is not the answer but making it legal subjects those industries which have a biological impact on the human body and more than that have an impact on the biological health of all of us will mean that some oversight will help to protect public health.

Unregulated sex and drugs too affect ALL of us which is why it is essential that it not be repressed and pushed under the rug. No one knows who is homosexual or who is heterosexual or who even is bisexual. Further, it does not matter and does no good to hang blame like an albatross around a group's neck. The larger issue is to have the public protected and ONLY government can do that NOT by making it illegal but by making it legal AND regulated. Like Wall Street these things are about making money and whenever that is concerned greed is the overwhelming motivator. The public left to its own devices comes in a distant second.

A porn star got HIV? What? How could this be possible?

People, myself included, don't want condoms in porn. If legislators force condoms in California, California will lose its multi-billion dollar porn industry because production will then go to states or countries where condoms are not required. In gay porn there are films with condoms and films without. Straight porn can do that also, so that performers have a choice. The bottom line is, porn actors go into the industry knowing there are risks. They're not stupid. STD's are an occupational hazard. I'm all for reducing those risks as much as possible. But legislating condom use won't change a thing, only move the industry someplace else.

I am still shocked everyday that we allow this indistry to flourish while prostitution is illegal. What's teh difference? One does it on camera and the other does it on alley ways and hotels so what, they are both disgusting. The one thing that shocks me also is that these porn stars have no shame prostituting themselves, where is this world going.

Burn baby burn, prostitution/pornography are all dangerous so when you play with fire, you get burned and I don't feel sorry for them. Should have gotten a job like the rest of us hard working people rather than sell your soul and morals for a few more dollars.

I remember reading about this back then. I can't remember where, but this is not new.

The hiv test only identifies the presence of 2, 3 or 4 proteins for a positive result depending on which country one is testing in - america 3 proteins, australia 4 proteins, africa just 2 proteins - coincidentally australia has the fewest hiv positives and africa has the most - many conditions have been found to cause the body to produce those proteins including drug use like cocaine and meth (employee drug screening uses the ELISA test, the same test is used for hiv - the British Medical Journal reported on this around 2002), flu shots and the flu itself as reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006, also tuberculosis and pregnancy among others. please pray for all those who have been misdiagnosed with hiv and AIDS, and please visit my channel at www.youtube.com/hivquestions (and healing alternatives) for further links and videos available in nine languages. a class action lawsuit would help.

Many of the men who do striaght porn are gay. Pornography is bad no matter how much Hetrosexual men wish to say it's okay. Un natural relationship staring sexually abused teens who grow up to be adults and have no shame.

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