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Porn actor with HIV didn't infect any other adult performer, clinic says

Officials at the Sherman Oaks facility say that they tested the unidentified patient's sex partners, 'from both personal and professional life,' and that all tested HIV-negative on two occasions.

November 05, 2010|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times

Officials at the San Fernando Valley clinic where a porn performer tested HIV-positive last month announced Friday that two rounds of tests showed no other adult film actors had contracted the virus.

The performer tested HIV-positive Oct. 9 at the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, or AIM, in Sherman Oaks. The clinic routinely tests performers working in the Valley's adult film industry for sexually transmitted diseases and maintains a database of their results.

Once the new HIV case was detected, clinic officials created a quarantine list to test performers who had worked with the porn actor, referred to in Friday's announcement as "Patient Zeta."

The announcement said that AIM officials had completed testing of the patient's sex partners, "from both personal and professional life," and that all tested HIV-negative "on two occasions, using multiple testing methods."

"It has been established that Patient Zeta acquired the virus through private, personal activity and there was no transmission of the HIV virus from Patient Zeta to anyone else," according to the announcement.

Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, Los Angeles County's public health director, said that AIM officials had not provided his office with the test results or protocols and that without that information, it was impossible to determine how Patient Zeta contracted the disease and whether all of those exposed had been tested.

"If in fact they have used the right tests and done everything they say they have done, it's good news for the people who were contacts, but it doesn't reduce the risks," he said. "To have somebody work in a situation where they are forced to do things that put others at risk for life-threatening diseases is very disturbing."

AIM officials have drawn criticism from AIDS activists and state officials who say the clinic has failed to promptly report HIV and other sexually transmitted maladies. In 2004, a male porn star, Darren James, contracted HIV and spread the virus to three female performers before it was detected. The outbreak shut down porn production for a month. Last year, a female performer who rarely worked tested HIV-positive, but no other cases were detected among performers.

In recent weeks, state workplace safety officials have been considering whether to mandate condom use and additional testing for porn performers.

AIM officials said the most recent testing "affirms the efficacy of AIM Healthcare Foundation's testing protocols, as voluntarily implemented by the adult entertainment industry," adding that "it is regrettable but inevitable that people continue to acquire the HIV virus in their personal life."

Clinic officials would not say how many people had been exposed or tested, according to their Santa Monica-based lawyer, Jeffrey J. Douglas. They reported the case to county public health officials late last month but have not released Patient Zeta's name, gender or other information. The Public Health Department has also refused to release that information, citing medical confidentiality.

Several large porn industry companies suspended production after Patient Zeta's HIV test, but on Friday at least one had resumed filming and another planned to resume next week.

"We have resumed production at our studios, continuing to make sure every precaution is taken to protect everyone involved with the filming," said Michael H. Klein, president of LFP Inc., parent company of Hustler.

Vivid Entertainment plans to resume filming Monday, co-founder Steven Hirsch said.

"AIM acted properly; they notified us immediately and kept in contact with us throughout the process," Hirsch said. "We are comfortable with the testing procedures."

molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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