Category: ‘Safe Sex’

I am bummed.

September 16, 2014 Posted by suefairview

First let me explain my credentials to discuss the issue of condom versus bare back sex in porn.

I worked for 22 years at big pharma, some of it in the lab as a chemist, some of it as a safety coordinator, some as a clinical research auditor, and some as a clinical research protocol manager. During that time, I worked on all phases of clinical trials that led to the final approval of a novel antiretroviral therapy. I also worked on an anticancer agent to fight Kaposi’s Sarcoma. I had dedicated my life to fighting HIV and cancer. Unfortunately, this all ended after my brain hemorrhage disabled me.

During the time I was working on the antiretroviral therapy, I traveled across the country and saw very disturbing things. I saw men [some women and children also] who were being robbed of their lives by AIDS and its related illnesses. I saw people who could not walk across the room and were blue with lack of oxygen in their blood due to AIDS related anemia. I saw people covered in Kaposi’s lesions, which along with the accompanying edema crippled them. I saw patients who were on oxygen because of pneumocystis pneumonia.  I could go on and on with the scary instances of concomitant illnesses common in AIDS patients. Back then, AIDS was a death sentence. I saw brave patients go with us to the FDA to plead for drug approvals, which we were fortunate enough to obtain.

Young people, through no fault of their own, have no idea how terrible AIDS can be as they didn’t live through that time. Some people think, “Oh, if I find that I am HIV+, I will just take some pills and be okay.” But think a minute about that. How many pills? [And they will be for the rest of your life.] What will they cost? How will you pay for them? How much will you worry at every cough that you have? Or worry with any symptom that you have? Of course, you may be immunosuppressed as well, and therefore have increased susceptibility to other diseases, including STD’s. I have suffered with a chronic illness and complying with the medication is not easy and can be depressing. From thereon forward, you will be HIV+, and need to take precautions such as telling your sexual partners that you are positive and having regular blood testing for CD4 counts and HIV levels. And of course as you get older, being HIV+ can complicate diseases of aging. Oh, and did I mention the possible side effects of HIV therapies that you will have to tolerate for the rest of your life?

Yes, I mean to scare you.

I was also a safety coordinator for about 600 employees. At big pharma we worked with all kinds of infectious diseases [including HIV] as well as toxic and radioactive chemicals. We followed OSHA and NRC procedures and were audited for same. I personally maintained records of exposure to radiation for every employee who worked with it, as was required by regulation. I also maintained accident records for the site. I did laboratory inspections and made reports. I headed both the safety and radiation safety committees and in this capacity, wrote safety procedures to improve our safety and standards.

So, my views of safe versus unsafe sex are formed by these experiences in the scientific, medical and professional safety capacities.

I  have been reviewing gay pornography since 2008. Of course I adore gay porn!!!! I thought that my blog would be a good way to spread the message that safe sex is hot sex.

In the past year or two however, many of my industry friends have opted to the bare backing scene. I too have been approached by studios who have bareback sex for reviews and promotion and I have always said “No thank you”. A well known director who has won awards told me in confidence that he believed that studios in the future would all be bareback.

My opinion is that what one does at home is one’s own business. But once a sex worker steps into a studio, that employee’s safety should be protected by the employer. Period. It is totally a question of employee safety in my mind. The entire freedom of speech argument is a non-sequitor and illogical. The studio is a workplace; the employee is given instructions to follow by the employer. It is all a question of safety. I could not go into big pharma and say whatever I wanted for fear of being fired. Or, I could not choose not to follow safety requirements because of free speech. I would be at risk of being fired. Plus I could endanger fellow employees and the property. Using condoms in porn is the only known way to protect employees from HIV and STD’s.

When AB1576 was introduced in California, I was hopeful! Finally condoms would be required in porn in California.

Resistance was fierce. Most of it was for financial reasons though; never a good slant for safety. I could recount many times that safety was sacrificed for the almighty dollar.

It was true though that sex workers’ records would have to be maintained at the studio under AB1576. But this was never a problem at our company. Personal information was kept confidential at all costs. A responsible employee would not have trouble with doing this. Also, there would be no need to sero-sort performers who were using condoms. If bare backing companies are sero-sorting, don’t they already have personal medical information? Why isn’t it a problem if BB studios do it, but as soon as it is done for safe sex, privacy is an issue.

Unfortunately, the bill failed. That is why I am so bummed.

I am against bare backing because of my concern for employee safety and also because I believe that influenceable viewers may copy what they see their favorite porn star doing on-screen. The CDC reports that HIV infections are up in the US. Infection rates are also up in Europe and Asia. Here is another article on the matter. Though no scientific study has proven the association to be true I feel the association is a no-brainer. Besides, shouldn’t we err on the side of safety?

I feel that the real heroes of this story are those sex workers who refuse to take the bigger paycheck that bare backing offers, which can easily be more than $1,000 per scene plus airfare. For many of these people, that is a huge amount of money. Also worthy of note are the studios that refuse to go to raw sex, even given the greater financial rewards available.

Part of the problem is that the porn market is changing and salaries are far lower than they were in the past for sex workers. At one time, a sex worker would earn $2,000 per scene, now that has dropped to $400 to $600. Plus amenities such as airfare are not paid out anymore.

All of these problems could be solved if there was a sex worker union formed. Salaries are determined by unions as are worker safety standards. But forming a sex worker union is quite problematic when escorting is not legal in many states. Even if it was, still the organizing and signing up of sex workers would be a monumental task.

So, I am bummed. Majorly. I have lost interest in doing reviews and even in watching porn altogether.

All I can say is that if you are a sex worker who is bare backing, take Truvada. It should protect you from sero-converting if you can tolerate it. Unfortunately it will not protect you from other STD’s.

California’s Condoms in Porn Bill (AB 1576) Clears Senate Labor Committee

June 25, 2014 Posted by suefairview

This story is from the Digital Journal:

AHF: With Three Votes, California’s Condoms in Porn Bill (AB 1576) Clears Senate Labor Committee

Read the rest of the article here.

Response to the Sword’s “10 reasons for gay porn stars to be more angry, and scared, about AB1576″

June 20, 2014 Posted by suefairview

Here is the link to the article at the Sword. Read AB 1576 here.

I will respond on a point-by-point basis.

1. It’s a solution to a problem that’s non-existent
In the last nine years there have been zero reports of HIV transmission on adult film sets. And where was the state, and Cal/OSHA, back at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s when porn studios were shooting bareback without acknowledging the risks of HIV transmission? We’re talking about tackling a problem 30 years too late that isn’t even a problem anymore — setting aside the example of Treasure Island Media which pretends to flout the notion of HIV safety, even though, anecdotally, they do sero-sort. Semi-monthly testing is already mandatory for all active performers. Also, Truvada is making the condom issue even more of a moot point for gay men, as long as its taken properly.

Untrue! There have been at least 2 reports of HIV transmission on adult film sets; both Cameron Bay and Rod Daily became infected and seroconverted to HIV+, respectively, in August of 2013 [http://www.aidshealth.org/archives/18040] and both men testified in support of this bill. More infections are alluded to in the discussion of the bill. The second point about “this legislation is too late” is irrelevant to the core argument. Besides, if it would have been helpful earlier, why isn’t it helpful now? When the bill is enacted, semi-monthly testing will be required at all studios. Truvada is also irrelevant to the core argument because patient compliance is dependent on the individual and cannot be relied on without testing.

2. The bill will move the industry out of state, at least at first, and possibly overseas.
That means that a performer who comes to San Francisco for a week to shoot for five studios will probably end up doing a lot more traveling to get the same amount of work. And since budgets are already low, we’ll likely see a decrease in jobs available overall. In the wake of the passage of Measure B in L.A., a bunch of straight porn companies have already relocated to Nevada.

Only barebacking studios will be forced to move; not companies who are currently using condoms who should be able to comply with the bill easily.

3. AB1576 removes the element of choice from performers.
For HIV-negative gay models, this means they will no longer be able to perform with HIV-positive models with protection should they choose too, further stigmatizing a disease the industry has long learned how to deal with.

Untrue! The bill does not state this anywhere. Nothing will change in this regard.

4. The entire thing is poorly written, disease-shaming, and not well thought out.
As Habib points out, “The language of the bill also utterly ignores people who are already living with HIV. There’s no structure in place to protect HIV+ performers from being blacklisted… The bill would also require two HIV+ men to get tested and used condoms if they wanted to do a scene together. That’s lunacy.”

The bill is not disease shaming. Please point out where this is for me. I don’t see it anywhere and this is the second time you have claimed this. This bill is written in the form and language of all regulations and thus might be considered poorly written by other authors, but then all regulations are! The language is clear and understandable, plus can be held legally binding. This is what is desired in regulatory bills. Blacklisting point: The studio will keep confidentiality by assigning a responsible person to keep the records. This will mean that HIV status will remain unknown to everyone, just like it is now. BTW: Where is the link to Conner Habib‘s statement? You did not provide it and I couldn’t find it on his blog.

5. Anyone producing content on their own, and not abiding by the letter of the law, could go to jail.
The law would also criminalize any adult production that violates its tenets — so you might actually see some performers, particularly those who are involved in production in some way, or shoot a sex tape, or doing webcam work — going to jail.

The potential for incarceration reflects how important an offense like HIV transmission is to the State. I do not feel that incarceration is too much punishment for someone who risks infecting another individual with HIV. Do you?

6. The law would present extremely serious violations to privacy around HIV
Companies would be required to report positive test results to the state, but there’s no language addressing confidentiality in these results, and nothing preventing insurance companies from finding out results or penalizing those found to be HIV+, who were able to keep their status confidential in the past.

Studios will have to take responsibility in this area and protect their employees’ privacy. Employee privacy is already being protected all over the country in areas such as Radiation Safety and for those who work with blood bourne pathogens [https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=10051&p_table=STANDARDS]. Regulations in California are here [http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/855249-california-code-of-regulations-title-8-section.html]. Thousands of private corporations and health management concerns are dealing with these type of regulatory standards without issues pertaining to privacy. Thus, there should be no change from the previous situation as far as loss of privacy.

7. AB 1576 doesn’t even understand how the industry works.
Assembly member Isadore Hall, who helped craft the bill, seems to believe that porn performers are all employees of their respective companies, when by and large they are all independent contractors.

I fail to see why this makes any difference. Information might need to be shared across studios between the caretakers of records, that is all.

8. Michael Weinstein is a self-aggrandizing, panic-mongering fool.
We’ve said it before, but this asshole behind the AIDS Healthcare Foundation would have us all believe that Truvada is a sham, and all sluts should be shamed.

This point is irrelevant to the discussion of AB 1576.

9. Many of your favorite porn stars will disappear from the screen, and be outed as HIV+.
Fan should all know by now that many performers on the gay side of the industry are HIV+, and they perform, safely and with condoms, with HIV-negative and other positive performers. AB1576 will essentially create a witch hunt for these performers, and out them by virtue of their sudden absence from the industry.

Totally untrue! The bill says nothing about changing HIV+ performers’ participation in the industry. Their participation can continue so long as they use condoms.

10. The bill is framed like an anti-porn crusade, and lots of respectable organizations have come out against it, as well as over 1,000 performers signing this petition.
If you don’t trust me, then listen to the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, the Transgender Law Center, the St. James Infirmary, the Erotic Service Providers Union, the Center for Sex and Culture, and the Adult Performers Advocacy Committee.

Where and how is the bill “like and anti-porn crusade”? How come you haven’t provided links to these organizations who are purportedly against AB 1576? The bill will require more work in the record-keeping sense as well as for studios to spend more on some beneficial things for its models. Let us keep in mind that no industries like more regulation, whether it benefits the environment or employees. I see no difference in the case of this legislation.

All I see is fear-mongering on behalf of the Sword towards this beneficial new regulation which will attempts to ensure the safety of employees in the adult entertainment industry.

Read an in-depth discussion of these and more points for and against the bill here. The document lists supporters of the bill as:

  • AIDS Healthcare Foundation
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • Beyond AIDS California Academy of Preventive Medicine
  • California Communities United Institute
  • California Employment Lawyers Association
  • California Medical Association
  • California Public Health Association-North
  • California State Association of Occupational Health
  • Nurses Fielding School of Public Health, UCLA
  • National Coalition of STD Directors
  • Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California
  • Professor Jeffrey Klausner of Medicine and Public Health, UCLA Worksafe

Opponents were:

  • Cutting Edge Testing
  • Free Speech Coalition
  • Ireland Entertainment
  • Manwin USA
  • Sean Darcy, MD Professional Corporation
  • Unsound Labs
  • Valley Industry and Commerce Association
  • Vivid Entertainment, LLC

BOTTOM LINE

Make your own informed decision as to the whether or not the bill is any good. Please don’t just read the Sword; this is only a one-sided discussion of the bill by a person with no apparent regulatory or corporate experience in safety matters. Further, I find the writing of his article irresponsible, since the author should state upfront that he is a crony of the porn industry and thus has his own agenda.

Cameron Bay, adult film performer who became infected with HIV while working in the adult industry in August 2013

·       Rod Daily, adult film performer who became HIV positive while working in the adult industry in August 2013

– See more at: http://www.aidshealth.org/archives/18040#sthash.X8tmqs8q.dpuf

Cameron Bay, adult film performer who became infected with HIV while working in the adult industry in August 2013

·       Rod Daily, adult film performer who became HIV positive while working in the adult industry in August 2013

– See more at: http://www.aidshealth.org/archives/18040#sthash.X8tmqs8q.dpuf

Cameron Bay, adult film performer who became infected with HIV while working in the adult industry in August 2013

·       Rod Daily, adult film performer who became HIV positive while working in the adult industry in August 2013

– See more at: http://www.aidshealth.org/archives/18040#sthash.X8tmqs8q.dpuf

California Bill AB1576 Condoms in Porn – A response to the Sword

May 17, 2014 Posted by suefairview

There is a new bill in California that has been introduced called AB1576. Read the bill in its entirety here. The bill is modeled on the bill written for Los Angeles county as an employee safety bill for sex workers where porn companies would keep records of STD exposure and provide condoms for said employees.

A very negative post was written about the bill by Tim Valenti in THE SWORD. Tim takes the approach that the bill infringes on workers’ rights and medical privacy, criminalizes raw sex porn and is slut shaming.

Here is my response:

I have always felt torn about this issue because bareback sex is legal and as a lontime married and monogamous person I engage in bareback sex with my spouse; so why shouldn’t raw sex porn be legal? However, I am very peturbed by the rise in raw sex porn films, because it bothers me that these may be influencing younger folks to engage in raw sex with many partners while making big bucks for companies. Also, as a former industry safety officer I can see the issue from the employee’s side of maintaining a safe workplace.

So, I have read the bill [http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/asm/ab_1551-1600/ab_1576_bill_20140130_introduced.html] which you [Tim] conveniently left out of your post, and do not see any slut shaming in it – where specifically did you see that? I do see that a selected officer at a porn company would have access to the STD records of all employees, vs as you mention all medical records, but only those records specifically that relate to STDs. Just as when I was a radiation safety officer, I had access to the radiation exposure records [medical and industrial] of all of the employees at my site, plus pregancies. This is an analagous situation and necessary to operate this system and keep records.

Finally, this bill requires adult entertainment companies to take some responsibility for performers’ medical costs and testing which I think is wonderful and a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, we will have to sacrifice bareback sex pornography, which is a small loss when compared to the chance of eradicating HIV completely from our society. And for those of you who wish to argue with that last statement, I would point you to the rise in HIV conversions amongst the young minorities in our country [http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/basics/ataglance.html].

The estimated number of new HIV infections was greatest among MSM in the youngest age group. In 2010, the greatest number of new HIV infections (4,800) among MSM occurred in young black/African American MSM aged 13–24. Young black MSM accounted for 45% of new HIV infections among black MSM and 55% of new HIV infections among young MSM overall2.

MY BODY IS A CONDOM (KINDA) by Colby Keller

March 12, 2014 Posted by suefairview

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Adult entertainer Cobly Keller writes about his one year experience on Truvada, Gilead’s new HIV protective drug that was approved for use by the FDA two years ago this July. His is the second first-hand account of use of the drug I have read and it is a very encouraging one. You can read his post and much more information about the drug, and his total experience [including paying for the drug] here.