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Adult film actors say industry does too little to prevent disease

Cameron Bay, whose HIV-positive test prompted a moratorium on filming, criticizes the porn site Kink.com for on-set practices. The site's owner says it is reevaluating what it permits.

September 18, 2013|By Abby Sewell
  • Cameron Bay, with fellow adult film performer and real-life boyfriend Rod Daily, tearfully describes a film shoot that she says put the performers at risk. Bay and Daily were among the current and former adult film performers who appeared at an AIDS Healthcare Foundation news conference in Hollywood on industry practices.
Cameron Bay, with fellow adult film performer and real-life boyfriend… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

Several current and former adult film actors who have tested positive for HIV spoke out Wednesday, saying their industry does not do enough to mitigate the risk of transmitting sexual diseases on set.

Cameron Bay, the actress whose positive HIV test prompted a weeklong moratorium on filming last month, spoke about one particular on-set incident that she said had put performers at risk.

A teary-eyed Bay said that in a July 31 film shoot with San Francisco-based bondage and fetish site Kink.com, an actor suffered a cut on his penis and was bleeding. She said the actor nevertheless continued performing, without a condom.

The actors involved in that scene and others Bay worked on have tested negative for human immunodeficiency virus, the disorder that can lead to AIDS, according to the group that oversees the industry's testing system for sexually transmitted diseases.

Kink.com owner Peter Acworth said Wednesday that HIV was not transmitted on set that day, but "there were incidents on that shoot, including some of the same ones that Ms. Bay identified, that have caused us to reevaluate what we permit."

He said his performers are all given the option to use condoms.

It is still unclear how Bay got infected. She said she had been in the adult film industry for three months before learning she had HIV on Aug. 21. She had tested negative for HIV on July 27.

"I'm not here to fight anybody's fight," she said. "I'm just here to share my story and to get knowledge out there to people and try to prevent anything like this happening to anyone else."

The news conference in Hollywood was convened by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, or AHF, which has pushed for legislation to require condom use on all adult film sets. The group backed a measure mandating such a requirement that was passed by voters in Los Angeles County last year and a similar state bill that died in committee in the legislative session that ended last week.

The adult film industry has shut down twice in the last month as a result of performers' HIV-positive test results. Industry representatives have contended that the three performers who tested positive during that time — including Bay; her real-life boyfriend, Rod Daily, who also appeared at the news conference; and a third performer who has not been identified — contracted the infection in their private lives and that frequent STD testing protocols in the industry are working.

Another actor who did not identify himself also spoke via telephone at the news conference. He said he too had contracted HIV within the last six months, possibly on set, but declined to give details.

The adult film industry trade group Free Speech Coalition said it was not aware of that case and called it "unconscionable and irresponsible for AHF to use any individual as a political pawn in a press conference."

AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein took a jab at the industry: "We've got to stop taking medical advice from pornographers."

The coalition announced Monday that the current moratorium would end Friday but said it also planned to require performers to re-test for STDs and to increase the frequency of required testing from every 28 days to every 14 days.

Some performers have spoken out against a government mandate for condoms on set, saying it should be their personal choice. But others say they fear that they will be out of work if they ask to use condoms.

"Asking for a condom on set wasn't really what you did, because you could just be replaced," Bay said.

Daily, who has primarily worked in gay scenes, said his experience showed that condoms work. In gay sex scenes, unlike straight scenes, condom use is standard. Daily said he had shot with performers who were HIV-positive and had not contracted the disease.

He criticized the industry for requiring performers in most cases to pay for their STD tests.

"Their main business is money, not the performers," he said.

abby.sewell@latimes.com

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