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Tearful porn actress speaks out about HIV risk in adult film industry

Movie IndustryCredit and DebtHIV - AIDSIsadore Hall, III

Several current and former adult film performers who have tested positive for HIV spoke out Wednesday about working conditions in the industry.

Cameron Bay, the actress whose positive HIV test result prompted a weeklong moratorium on filming last month, spoke at a Hollywood news conference about an 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 Kink.com, an incident resulted in an actor getting a cut on his penis and bleeding. She said the actor continued performing without a condom. 

Bay said she had been in the adult film industry for three months and had shot 10 scenes before learning she had HIV on Aug. 21. She had tested negative for HIV on July 27.

"I'm not here to push anything down anybody's throat, 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 was convened by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has pushed for legislation to require condom use on all adult film sets. The group backed a measure that was passed by voters in Los Angeles County last year -- currently the subject of a lawsuit -- and a state bill written by Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D-Compton) 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 insisted that the three performers who tested positive during that time  -- including Bay, her real-life boyfriend, Rod Daily, and a third performer who has not been publicly identified -- did not contract the infection on set and that frequent STD testing protocols are working.

An actor who did not identify himself also spoke via telephone at the news conference Wednesday. He said he too had contracted HIV within the last six months, possibly on set, but declined to identify the studio he had worked for or to give any further details. 

Adult film industry trade group Free Speech Coalition, which oversees the STD-testing system, has said it is not aware of that case.

The industry announced Monday that the current moratorium will end Friday, but said it also planned to increase the frequency of required testing from every 28 days to every 14 days.

All on-screen partners of the HIV-positive performers tested negative, they have said.

Another performer, Patrick Stone, who had not previously spoken out, said Wednesday that he received what turned out to be a false positive on an HIV test earlier this month.

Stone said no one from the industry had contacted him about his test results, but that a representative of Kink.com had emailed him about rescheduling a shoot he had planned with them for Thursday.

"They had me scheduled for a shoot tomorrow, and as far as they knew, I was HIV positive," he said.

Stone provided a copy of the Sept. 12 email, in which the scheduler said the shoot would be a domination fetish shoot not involving "fluid exchange or skin-to-skin contact." The email made no mention of the test result.

A Kink spokesman was not able to immediately respond to the allegations raised by Bay and Stone. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed a complaint against the studio last month with Cal/OSHA, the state agency overseeing workplace safety. That resulted in an investigation being opened.

At the time, Kink owner Peter Acworth said the company was cooperating in the investigation and called the studio's safety protocols "some of the most stringent in the industry."

Spokesman Mike Stabile said the studio has a "double-blind" policy on condom use under which any performer can request a condom to be used on a shoot, and when directors hire a performer, they are not told whether the performer requested a condom.

[Updated at 3:25 p.m.: Kink owner Acworth said in a statement that "our hearts go out to the performers" who participated in the press conference, but accused AIDS Healthcare Foundation of playing "loose with the facts" to "generate hysteria around HIV." He said the actors who took part had contracted the infection off set and that the studio had been "entirely unaware of [Stone's] status, even as a false positive" and that Stone would have had to show proof he had cleared a test in order to shoot.

"All of our models are informed that they request a condom at any time, that they can stop a shoot at any time, and that they control the scene...We take consent and safety seriously," he wrote.

But, he added, "Ms. Bay's shoot caused us concern long before the subject of HIV came up. While HIV was not transmitted on set, 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 on shoots involving members of the public, even when it’s consensual."]

Some performers have spoken out against requiring 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 shows that condoms work. In gay sex scenes, unlike straight scenes, condom use is standard. Daily, who has worked in the industry since 2003, said he had shot in the past 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 own STD tests -- and the cost to actors will now increase as more frequent testing is required.

"Their main business is money, not the performers," he said of adult film studios. "I do know for a fact that condoms will work, have worked, do work."

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Twitter: @sewella

abby.sewell@latimes.com

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