Written by the APAG's Vice President of APAG, Ruby
The conflict begins when 2 sides of the same industry decide to take a different approach to eradicating the transmission of the HIV virus. This was the mistake.
When Adult Industry Medical was shut down over HIPAA violations, the foremost trade organization that primarily represents the producers of Side 1(the heterosexual, or”straight”),side, created a new testing system in 2011,changing the antibody test that AIM relied on, to a viral load test,a test,that,at the time,had the shortest window period to detect HIV positives that were detectable before entry to the Side 1 system. Other STI tests were also added close to this time.
Undetectable status began in 2011. An undetectable test can mean either, not infected, infected but in the eclipse period when the virus is still not detected in the blood the first 10 to 12 days of infection, or thru ART(anti retroviral therapy) to suppress viral load.
Meanwhile, Side 2 (LGBTQ) decided to go with a, “don’t ask,don’t tell” ,condom only policy with no other STI testing required. Effectively leaving no way to adequately gauge transmission of STI’s on Side 2. Side 1 depends on the trade organization’s panel to keep them safe,a panel, that in reality, already allowed for undetectable performers since 2011,separating an industry that should have remained whole from the beginning,creating the testing disparity,and at times pitting them against each other.
Fast forward to the Prop 60 fight. There are 2 different representatives, running 2 different non profit organizations, who both have the same goal of eradicating the transmission of HIV. However, they dramatically disagree on how that should be accomplished. The representative of the HIV non profit attempts to force his mandatory condom legislation on an already condom resistant Side 1. The representative from Side 1’s non profit trade organization, an HIV advocate and stigma activist, who currently oversees the Side 1 testing system has found a drug that helps prevent transmission of HIV, that he sees as the solution and fights Prop 60, which fails to pass.
Being an HIV advocate and activist, he’d be well aware of the possibility of undetectable performers in Side 1’s testing system. Side 1,however, is lead to believe that there is no possibility of undetectable performers in the testing system, even though the viral load test has allowed for that since 2011,when undetectable status became possible. Logically there is NO way not to conclude that the representative of the non profit organization that oversees the testing system,being an HIV advocate and activist,would have not known that there was a possibility of undetectable performers in their system, being that only the viral load test was the one test they used. There is no way they could have not known, and absolutely no way to know for sure if there was undetectable performers in that system.
This brings us to last year when the trade organization begins to lobby to reduce the law criminalizing the intentional transmission of HIV from a felony to a misdemeanor, assuming, in an attempt to minimize liability, thus relieving them of any felonious responsibility if there are undetectable performers present in their testing system.
The board members of the Adult Performers Actors Guild saw this and immediately began working tirelessly to get the antibody test added to the existing panel. We were met with extreme resistance, ridicule, and harrassment. After hearing several stories from several different people from different parts of the industry, not being able to divulge sources,we began working on an alternative system. A system both sides could use, a system with no back doors for producers, completely HIPAA compliant, with all the CDC recommended testing, that takes insurance.
Finally, arriving at last week’s AVN convention HIV stigma panel that Side 1’s trade organization’s representative hosted, where it was explained to Side 1 that refusal to work with undetectable HIV positive performers was bigotry and discrimination. Performers that logically would already be present in the system since 2011. We feel it is a violation of consent not to reveal your status to your scene partners. The representative of the trade organization, assuming that he knows he needs to move those performers to a new system, he proposes the new system,a undetectable friendly system, still refusing to update the original one. Unfortunately while demonizing performers who would choose not to take the risk.
There doesn’t need to be 2 separate systems. The industry simply needs a better one. A better system, one testing system with all the CDC recommended testing, HIPAA compliant,that accepts insurance, available nationwide. We cannot recommend that as a undetectable performer that you can or should work in this industry. The laws in a majority of the states have not caught up and legally you face a risk of double prosecution for your status, undetectable or not, and for that reason we cannot recommend that you perform. That being said, what you do with your test is up to you, you would simply show positive on the antibody test.
Instituting one comprehensive panel for everyone that is covered by insurance is the best workable solution. This will make it profitable to insure performers in an industry that is so much about it’s bottom line. With insurance comes well checks and mental health services.
We are looking forward to providing this industry as a whole with this brand new testing system very soon. Giving you the options you deserve. We are ONE industry that should have never split in the first place. If you believe in positive change and taking care of family first, please come join us at the Adult Performers Actors Guild. We sure could use your help.