“Not only do these findings directly contradict claims by the adult film industry that STD rates are lower among performers than among the general population, it also destroys the industry’s argument that regular STD and HIV testing is a replacement for condoms”
This data was presented last week in a summary entitled High Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Incidence, Reinfection and HIV Infection Among Workers in the Adult Film Industry: Time to Regulate and Protect Workers (by Binh Goldstein, Christina Rodriguez-Hart, Getahun Aynalem and Peter R. Kerndt of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health). The study is in direct contradiction to the non-scientific claims made by the Free Speech Coalition—the Adult Film Industry trade organization—that STD infection rates among adult film performers are lower than in the general population.
The study, High Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Incidence and Reinfection Among Performers in the Adult Film Industry was published in Sexually Transmitted Diseases (Journal of the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association, Volume 38, Number 7, July 2011) and was authored by Binh Y. Goldstein, PhD, Jane K. Steinberg, PhD, Getahun Aynalem, MD, MPH and Peter Kerndt, MD, MPH. The study looked at 3,328 cases of Chlamydia and gonorrhea in the performer population that were reported to the LA County Department of Public Health surveillance registry. For Chlamydia, the rate in performers was between 14.3, at the low end, as opposed to 1.7% for the general population between 18-29 and .4% for the general population of all ages. Similarly, the rate of gonorrhea was 5.1% for performers as opposed to .3% in the general population between 18-29 and .1% in the general population of all ages.
“Not only do these findings directly contradict claims by the adult film industry that STD rates are lower among performers than among the general population, it also destroys the industry’s argument that regular STD and HIV testing is a replacement for condoms,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “The only way to prevent such high infection and re-infection rates among porn performers is the enforcement of California worker safety laws that require condom use on set.”
The demographics of the cases and the re-infection rates also proved illuminating. Among the facts:
75% of cases were among performers aged 18-29
72.4% of the women infected were between ages 18-24
55.4% of the male performers infected were ages 20-24
Between 2004-2007, the re-infection rate within one year was 26.1%
Female performers were 27% more likely to be re-infected than males
According to the poster, conclusions reached after the study include:
Chlamydia and gonorrhea infection rates among workers are high and repeat infection is common
Testing alone is not sufficient for controlling the spread of STDs within the industry, especially since workers are not routinely screened orally or rectally
During the 2004 outbreak, workplace transmission of HIV in the adult film industry was documented
Self-regulation in this industry has not sufficiently protected workers from serious health risks
Condoms should be used as required pursuant to Cal/OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen Standard
More vigorous enforcement of OSHA occupation standards is required
An editorial called Occupational Health and the Adult Film Industry: Time for a Happy Ending (Jeffrey D. Klausner, MD, MPH, and Kenneth A. Katz, MD, MSc, MSCE), also published in Sexually Transmitted Diseases, states:
“The rates for Chlamydia and gonorrhea of adult film industry performers were 34 and 64 times higher than rates in the general population in Los Angeles, respectively, and 8.5 and 18 times higher than rates in 18 to 29 year-olds. Part of these increased rates might be explained by more frequent screening of workers in the adult film industry, compared with the general population, and more complete reporting of cases to the local health jurisdiction by clinics that serve industry workers.
“But much of the increase likely results from the lack of availability or use in the industry of existing highly effective methods to reduce disease transmission, such as latex or polyurethane male and female condoms. Furthermore, although the California Occupational Safety and Health Agency requires the use of condoms, enforcement of the use of such personal protective equipment among industry performers and monitoring of production companies to assure and protect the health of their performers have been lacking.”