The Problem with AHF’s Porn STI Rates

For the past 16 months the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has been citing a study that seems to indicate that the STI rates for porn performers are much higher than the general population. AHF has trotted out these numbers during the fight on Ballot Measure B as “evidence” as to why condoms are needed in adult entertainment as a worker safety device. However, they are not being honest in the veracity of the statistical analysis they are providing.

The study titled “High Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Incidence, Reinfection and HIV Infection Among Workers in the Adult Film Industry: Time to Regulate and Protect Workers” has an obvious reason for being written. The title says it all. The authors of the study are Binh Goldstein, Christina Rodriguez-Hart, Getahun Aynalem and Peter R. Kerndt of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Dr. Peter Kerndt would be the person responsible for regulating the adult industry if Ballot Measure B passes.

According to AHF here is what the study states;

“Chlamydia incidence in adult film performers was 8.5 times higher than the rate in Los Angeles County residents aged 18-29 and 34 times higher than in the general population. Gonorrhea incidence was 18 times higher in porn performers than Los Angeles County residents aged 18-29 and 64 times higher than in the general population.”

As a lawyer I can state this report as no value as evidence in a court of law. What AHF is asking the voters of Los Angeles County to do is to ASSUME that, even if the numbers are correct, that all of these initial infections and re-infections occurred in the workplace.

There is just simply no way to “prove” that STI infections such as gonorrhea or chlamydia occurred on set. The Los Angeles County Health Department would like you, the voter/reader to jump to the conclusion that it’s – “Time to Regulate and Protect Workers.” However, you simply cannot do that.

Matter of fact, the California Legislature has refused to do exactly what the Los Angeles Department of Health is asking you the voter to do. In 2011 California Assembly Bill 375 was introduced in order to provide hospital workers with a presumption of injury if they happen to be infected by an exposure to a bloodborne pathogen – the same type of diseases that AHF states occurs on set. Even though chlamydia and gonorrhea are sexually transmitted diseases they are also listed as bloodborne pathogens for work place safety issues in California.

What that means is that in a workers compensation claim filed by a hospital worker who suffers an infection because of an exposure to a bloodborne disease it would be presumed that the infection happened at work. Basically, the law would require a judge to make a ruling that just because someone worked in a hospital as a healthcare provider the judge would be forced to ASSUME that the infection was related to their work. This is exactly what the AHF is asking you the voter to ASSUME about porn performers and the STI rates in the study they cite.

At this point it would be easy to quote a famous saying about what happens when one ASS U ME  anything. Instead, it is much more telling to inform you as to what happened to AB 375 – it died in the Senate. It did not pass ( Please see: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=ab_375&sess=CUR ). The esteemed members of the California Senate decided to vote against this bill and refused to force a judge in California to make a legal presumption of infection just because of an exposure to a bloodborne pathogen.

However, AHF wants to change that vote at least in regards to porn performers. They want the voters of Los Angeles County to presume that because of an exposure on set that all of the STIs they have cited in their report are work related injuries. Based on the rarity of infection it would be easier to prove that an HIV infection occurred on set though. Trying to prove that a performer contracted chlamydia and/or gonorrhea on set is akin to stating that an office worker caught the flu at work and therefore we should all wear surgical masks on our face at work since their is a chance that you may infect your cubicle mate.

 

 

 

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