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Proposed Mandatory Testing Regulations

The bill is sponsored by the non-profit AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) whose president, Michael Weinstein, has outraged  adult performers and the gay community for espousing his misguided policies regarding HIV and AIDS prevention. Without a doubt, there are communities that continue to suffer from increasing rates of HIV transmission, and these communities might benefit from some of the vast resources the AHF has at its command. However, the porn industry – whose workers make their sexual health a top priority – is, in fact, a low risk population. Testing regulations required in the bill are less stringent than those currently upheld by the adult industry.

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Why AB1576 Should Be Opposed

    • The bill would require that a condom be worn for all vaginal and anal scenes. Performers would have no choice. Condoms were developed for personal use, not as industrial protection. The physical demands of shooting an adult scene are very different from what happens in most people’s private sex lives. Many performers have experienced chafing and abrasions from using condoms during scenes, which create greater potential for STI transmission.
    • The regulations imposed by this bill would force most companies to leave California. This would mean the loss of thousands of jobs – not only the jobs of performers, but also those of editors, makeup artists, graphic designers, marketing teams, IT experts, accountants, security guards, craft services, project managers, talent bookers – the list goes on and on.
    • If the industry is forced to move out of state or underground, the already effective performer-developed and performer-enforced health and safety protocols the industry has in place will be jeopardized – meaning that this bill will actually reduce the on-the-job safety of those workers it claims to protect.
    • AB 1576 imposes a controversial government mandate on testing, forcing producers to disclose performers’ STI test details to the Department of Industrial Relations. In effect, performers will be forced to waive their privacy rights in order to work.
    • Testing regulations required in the bill are less stringent than those currently upheld by the adult industry.

Hidden Agenda: Why AB1576 Is Really Being Introduced

    • “[Michael Weinstein] concedes that the campaign is a public-relations windfall: ‘We got more publicity for safer sex and condoms than we ever could have gotten any other way.’” Seema Mehta and Abby Sewell, Michael Weinstein, leader in AIDS movement, has hard-charging style, Los Angeles Times (January 3, 2014).
    • “This isn’t the first time AHF has fought progress by taking a position that ignores scientific evidence and sets it apart from the HIV/AIDS community. Some suggest the organization manufactures controversy to keep its name in the headlines and stay relevant.” James Loduca, Vice President, Philanthropy & Public Affairs at San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Unconditional Love and PrEP, Huffington Post (April 23, 2006).
    • “‘Contrary to some high-minded 1st Amendment motivation, he’s shown to be a thug,’ the supervisor said of Weinstein. ‘He’s used his nonprofit organization in a crass and bullying political way to get his way, which is to avoid being held accountable.’” Abby Sewell, Animosity between head of AIDS group, L.A. County supervisor emerges, Los Angeles Times (February 12, 2014).
    • “Rather than a sincere attempt to vindicate their First Amendment rights, the Court fears that [AHF] instituted this action in an effort to obtain a tactical advantage in their ongoing political battles with Defendants and obtain leverage in what, it turns out, is nothing more than a state law declaratory relief claim over the findings of the 2009 Audit and the interpretation of the Contract.” AIDS Healthcare Foundation, et al. v. Los Angeles County, et al., Case No. CV 12-10400 PA (AGRx), Order on Motion for Summary Judgment (Feb. 10, 2014).
    • “Mr. Weinstein’s anti-PrEP position is an extension of his long-standing anti-promiscuity crusade and more importantly his continuation of harmful shame tactics.” Michael Lucas, Op-Ed: The Danger in Calling PrEP a “Party Drug”, OUT Magazine (April 14, 2004).
    • “To Assistant County Executive Officer Ryan Alsop, the vehemence of AHF’s campaign is no surprise. ‘This is coming from the same individuals who are using the same kind of shock-and-awe tactics to carelessly and selfishly propose dismantling of the county’s public-health system,’ he said. ‘It’s obvious they have some personal vendetta against some folks here, and they are using their organization to wage an unnecessary war.’” Rick Orlov, AIDS Healthcare takes on L.A. County in ad campaign, Los Angeles Daily News (November 4, 2013).

We urge everyone who opposes this bill to contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will be deciding the fate of the bill over the next several weeks, and use #stopab1576 to voice your opposition and spread the word in social media.

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AB1576 FACTS

Misrepresents Research Findings by Distorting Data

AB 1576 is based on distorted information. While Isadore Hall and his supporters mislead the public by pointing to data showing five documented HIV transmissions in 2013 among individuals who have acted in adult films, effectively misrepresenting correlation as causation, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, in fact, drew no conclusive link between HIV and adult film production in 2013, and notes that such connections are difficult to determine.

Opposed by Performers

The adult film industry already has a comprehensive testing protocol to protect workers. In addition to the low rate of STI transmission, there has been no transmission of HIV on a regulated adult set nationwide in 10 years.

Weakens HIV Test Quality

The industry’s own current protocols for testing are more rigorous than those of the CDC or Department of Public Health Standards. AB 1576 requires only the less-accurate “rapid HIV antibody” test (with a window period of approximately 812 weeks between infection and detectability), whereas all major producers now use the gold standard “HIV viral load” method (with a window of 7-10 days). Most adult film producers already require full-panel STI testing no earlier than 14 days prior to any sexual shoot.

Creates Privacy and Liability Risks

AB1576 threatens performer privacy and increases liability. Producers will be required to receive STI tests from performers and disclose details to the Department of Industrial Relations. This means performers will be forced to waive their privacy rights in order to work. This not only compromises performer privacy, but also imposes significant increased liability in case of an unforeseen information breach.

Ends Freedom of Choice

AB 1576 would even requires condoms and testing for married, monogamous performers who shoot exclusively with each other. Performers, like all citizens of a democratic society, should keep their right to decide for their own bodies.

Costs California Jobs and Revenue

With an effective date of January 1, 2015, AB 1576 will drive the adult film industry out of California and take tens of thousands of jobs with it. The threat to leave CA is real. Kink.com, for example, has already committed to contingency plans to move most of its production to Las Vegas if AB 1576 passes. Since Measure B passed, adult filming has fled LA County, with a 95% reduction reported through FilmLA. Some producers have already moved out of California, while others await the result of the legal challenge and word on AB 1576. Furthermore, the shift in skilled editors, crews, and fully-equipped studios just across the border will make filming in more business-friendly Nevada an even more viable and attractive alternative for main-stream “Hollywood” film producers.

Reduces Legitimacy and Safety

AB 1576 will push many adult productions underground. Smaller producers that can’t afford to move will go underground, eliminating the security and silencing the openness that adult performers are afforded from working in a legal, transparent industry.

Wastes Public Funds

In a time of financial crisis in California, it is diffcult to justify the hundreds of thousands of dollars that would be required for the state to defend an appeal of the law and continuously monitor, enforce, and prosecute the elements of AB 1576. These costs do not even consider the lost jobs and revenue of productions leaving the state en masse. HIV funding in CA has already been significantly reduced. Diverting valuable dollars from existing programs to this program will only hurt those already infected with HIV and will reduce the resources to prevent others from contracting the disease.