How Does the Porn Industry Protect Its Stars From HIV?

How Does the Porn Industry Protect Its Stars From HIV

There’s no question that porn is one of the world’s secret guilty pleasures. In 2016 alone, Pornhub saw 23 billion visits to the sites — that’s around 64 million visitors a day, according to its annual report.  

Needless to say, the porn business isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, which has no doubt driven the need for more content, as well as sexier (and younger) stars. But how is the industry protecting them from contracting STIs?

Last year, California voted against proposition 60, which would have required porn stars to wear condoms in all their scenes. Two years prior, in 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on HIV transmission among male adult performers, highlighting a 2014 incident involving a performer who was tested within the 14-day industry-recommended window, yet unknowingly transmitted the virus to another performer.

Adult performer Sabrina Deep spoke about the industry’s testing criteria on Quora, saying first that “there is no such thing as protected sex,” but “there are tools and ways to limit the risk, the most efficient of which is common sense, but the only way to be protected from catching STDs when having sex is not to have sex at all.”

Deep writes that adult performers are tested regularly, up to twice a month on average. “For me, plus rapid HIV test on site right before shooting, to discourage tests forgery,” she explained. Many adult film production companies require their stars to have a clean bill of health within 14 days of shooting, The Daily Beast points out.

Some industry insiders also think that the testing mandate is better than having a condom mandate, which might lead to a wider distribution of condomless sex. After all, according to a separate Pornhub report, “bareback” was the third highest search when it came to gay porn — and more clicks means a higher need to produce.

For the case in the CDC report, the male adult performer had condomless penetration, oral, and anal sex with another person who was not part of the production. That individual turned out to be HIV-positive. This was six days before the performer had a mandatory HIV test that would make him clear for work. But six days is not a long enough window for an HIV test to be 100 percent accurate, as it takes up to ten days for the virus to show up in tests.

Reportedly, the male adult performer in question had sex with a co-star 15 days after exposure. Thankfully, none of them were contracted with the virus. However, the next day, despite him starting to have acute symptoms — rash, fever, sore throat — he did a three-day shoot and ended up transmitting HIV to one of the girls. Dr. Christopher Died, author of the CDC report, told Daily Beast, “You’re contagious before the symptoms but highly contagious when you’re symptomatic.”

Gay porn stars like Max Cameron and Jason Domino have turned to PrEP, an HIV prevention tool, as a higher form of prevention in addition to condom use.

“My ex boyfriend was in porn working for Treasure Island,” Cameron explained to The Homo Culture. “All their stuff is bareback. I know the last test results of all my scene partners and you always assume their status is positive. I understand the testing protocols and knew my risk. I wanted to make sure I protect my health. After all, condom efficacy ranges between 55-85 percent, while my PrEP regime protects me beyond 99 percent efficacy because I’m adhering perfectly.”

What the CDC report found was that none of the performers with whom the male star in question had sex with were on PrEP. The CDC highly recommends companies to not only provide on-set rapid tests and vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, and HPV, but also strictly discuss the use of PrEP.

Though the future is still unclear as to what measures the industry might take, one thing is always going to be certain: being on top of your health is always going to be in your own hands. No amount of law or mandate will change that.

Education is the best form of prevention — and the practice of it is even better.

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