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Porn studio owner accuses group of creating 'hysteria around HIV'

Sexually Transmitted DiseasesMovie IndustryHIV - AIDSIsadore Hall, III

The owner of a porn studio involved in allegations that it puts actors at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases accused the AIDS Healthcare Foundation of playing "loose with the facts" to "generate hysteria around HIV."

The statement from Peter Acworth, owner of San Francisco-based Kink.com, came after a Hollywood news conference Wednesday, during which several current and former adult film performers who have tested positive for HIV spoke out about working conditions in the industry.

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 adult film industry has shut down twice in the last month as a result of performers' HIV-positive test results -- a development the foundation has used to tout legislation requiring condoms on porn sets statewide.

The group backed a similar countywide measure that was passed by voters last year -- currently the subject of a lawsuit -- but a state bill written by Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D-Compton) died in committee in the legislative session that ended last week.

Industry representatives have insisted that the three performers who tested positive  -- including Cameron 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.

But at the news conference Wednesday, a teary-eyed Bay said that in a July 31 film shoot with 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."

Daily accused the industry of putting profits before safety.

"Their main business is money, not the performers," he said of adult film studios.

An 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 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.

In his statement, Acworth acknowledged that Bay's shoot had caused concerns.

"Ms. Bay's shoot caused us concern long before the subject of HIV came up," he wrote. "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."

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

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Twitter: @sewella

abby.sewell@latimes.com


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