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Porn actress' positive HIV test roils adult entertainment world

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The adult film industry has called a nationwide moratorium on production after an actress tested positive for HIV.

The Free Speech Coalition, a Canoga Park-based trade organization for the adult film industry, said Thursday that a 28-year-old actress who uses the screen name Cameron Bay, tested conclusively positive for HIV.

The coalition had issued the moratorium a day earlier, after preliminary test results came up positive.

While the industry association maintained there was no evidence that Bay had contracted the virus on set, the scare added fuel to an ongoing legal battle over a Los Angeles County measure passed by voters last year requiring porn actors to wear condoms at work.

Mark Schechter, owner of Adult Talent Managers L.A., which represents Bay, told the Los Angeles Times that the actress went in for her regular screening for sexually transmitted diseases on Monday and the results came back inconclusive. She had a second test Tuesday with a new blood sample. Preliminary results came back Wednesday as potentially positive for HIV.

The Free Speech Coalition said Thursday that separate tests by Cutting Edge Testing and Talent Testing Services confirmed the result.

Bay's last test prior to Monday -- which was negative -- took place July 27, Schechter said, and she had done shoots since.

Schechter said Bay was “distraught,” but was cooperating with medical personnel to make sure her partners were notified as quickly as possible.

“As difficult as this news is for me today, I am hopeful that no other performers have been affected,” Bay said in a statement. “I plan on doing everything possible to assist the medical professionals and my fellow performers. Following that, my long-term plan is to take care of myself and my health.”

A positive HIV test can be a double blow in that it leaves an adult performer out of a job while faced with costly medical treatment.

“There’s no health insurance, there’s no union, there really isn’t a safety net,” said Aurora Snow, a recently retired adult film actress. “I feel really bad for her. It’s got to be really tough to get that kind of news.”

Officials with the county’s department of public health confirmed that the agency had been notified of the test result, as required by law, but did not respond to a query whether they were conducting any follow-up investigation to see if the condom mandate had been violated.

A spokesman for Cal/OSHA, the state agency overseeing workplace safety issues, said the agency was gathering information about the case but had not opened a formal investigation.

The most recent industry moratorium related to a sexually transmitted disease was issued in August 2012 as a result of a syphilis outbreak.

A previous HIV scare that shut down adult film production in 2011 turned out to be a false alarm. After a weeklong filming moratorium, the performer involved was retested, with a negative result.

Before that, performer Derrick Burts tested positive in 2010. Burts went on to become an advocate of requiring condom use in porn productions. He said Friday that he felt sympathy for Bay and commended her for coming forward publicly.

But he had harsh words for the industry. The Free Speech Coalition said there was “no evidence whatsoever” that Bay had contracted the infection on set -- a statement Burts said was “jumping the gun” because testing of other performers was ongoing.

“To me, what that says is they care more about saving face,” Burts said. “They care more about the politics, not the performer.”

The Free Speech Coalition said it was working with a doctor affiliated with Adult Production Health and Safety Services to contact and treat any other performers who might have been exposed. The coalition said the moratorium would remain in place until all of Bay’s sexual partners have been tested and cleared.

Because of the rigorous APHSS protocols, the situation was accessed quickly and — most importantly — action was taken to ensure the protocols were followed,” coalition Chief Executive Diane Duke said.

Some critics of the industry pointed to the latest HIV scare as further evidence that condoms should be required on set.

“The industry’s testing-only policy has failed,” Assemblywoman Isadore Hall (D-Compton), who wants a statewide requirement for porn actors to wear condoms, said in a statement. “Short of requiring condoms in all adult films, this type of tragedy will continue and California workers will continue to be exposed to injury, harm and potentially death.”

The adult industry has maintained that mandating condoms on set, as the city and county of Los Angeles have now done, harms their business and is unnecessary because performers undergo regular testing.

Adult film producers Vivid Entertainment and Califa Productions and performers Kayden Kross and Logan Pierce sued the county in January to prevent implementation of the law. After the county declined to defend it, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation advocacy group stepped in as an “intervenor.” The plaintiffs tried unsuccessfully to get the group removed from the case.

Earlier this month, a U.S. district judge struck down the contention that requiring condoms is unconstitutional, but put restrictions on how it can be enforced. Vivid quickly appealed the ruling.

A spokesman with the county public health department said it has issued 10 conditional adult film permits since the condom measure was implemented, and no violations had been found to date.

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abby.sewell@latimes.com

Staff writer Kate Mather contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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