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County Health Officials Call for Condoms in Porn Movies

Los Angeles

October 08, 2004|Caitlin Liu | Times Staff Writer

Frustrated by the porn industry's continuing unsafe sex practices, Los Angeles County health officials have sent 400 letters to producers and directors urging condom use during sex scenes.

The letters, which began arriving this week, also advise the industry to vaccinate performers for hepatitis A and B.

"We think this is a matter of worker protection," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the county's Department of Health Services. "We don't have the authority to enforce this, so this is our recommendation."

In August, Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood) issued a letter warning the industry to voluntarily begin using condoms or risk facing possible future legislation that would mandate it.

Last month, the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health fined two Van Nuys companies $30,560 each for allegedly allowing their actors to engage in unprotected sex, in violation of regulations requiring employers to protect workers exposed to bodily fluids.

The companies, Evasive Angles and TTB Productions, have appealed.

So far, the industry has mostly ignored the government.

Before an HIV outbreak in April -- which involved four actors and caused a temporary shutdown in production -- 17% of the region's porn performers used condoms, according to the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation, a nonprofit group that provides HIV testing. Condom use increased in the weeks after the outbreak, but the level has fallen back to 17%.

"Even though a lot of people might be turning a blind eye, they can't ignore the fact that the issue is under the microscope of the government," said Sharon Mitchell, executive director of the foundation.

Many producers say condom use will hurt profits because customers don't like watching safe sex. Some complain that scenes with condoms take longer to shoot.

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