HIV Scare in Porn Industry

HIV Scare in Porn Industry

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People love porn or they love to hate it. Even if this is not true for you porn peaks people’s interest, which is why there has been widespread news about a recent HIV scare within the adult industry. This incident caused a large rift in the porn world between those who want condoms to be required and those who do not. The event also caused outrage from those advocating against the adult industry who feel producers are being irresponsible and not acting in the best interest of the performers. Most people’s perception of the porn industry is that those who work in it are uneducated, drug addicts and often helpless victims of a sex matrix. On the other side, the popular perception about groups working towards “making our industry safer” is that they are providing safe and effective resources which create better work environments for the performers. Both of these perceptions are incredibly inaccurate.

In August, three performers tested positive for HIV. In response, the industry halted all production and tested all performers who were potentially exposed. The current industry standard HIV test has a 7-10 day detection period – the period of time during which HIV antibodies could appear in an infected individual. Industry protocol is to remain shutdown for 14 days (well beyond the 7-10 detection period) in order to ensure that no other performers have contracted the virus. In this most recent case, the industry stayed shut down for an additional week in order to further investigate and determine how the performers contracted HIV. Amidst all the concern about the safety in our industry, our temporary moratorium worked, and no other performers tested positive. But what many people don’t know is that none of the initial three performers who tested positive got HIV on a porn set. They got it by partaking in risky behavior in their personal lives.

Even though the performers contracted the virus outside of the adult industry and our testing system detected this early enough to keep it from spreading, this did not stop the Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) from taking advantage of this unfortunate incident and waging further what I believe is a vendetta against the porn industry disguised as a campaign trying to make porn safer. AHF is a non-profit organization which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars towards advocating the requirement of condom use in porn – going so far as to getting a measure put on the ballot in last November’s election. I am not against condom use in porn; I am against the government mandating it, but more importantly, AHF is wrong in thinking condom use is the most effective way to make the porn industry safer. They want you to think that had condoms been required on porn sets none of this would have happened. When in fact, given that these performers contracted HIV outside of porn, it would have not changed any of the unfortunate circumstances. In most recent news, Aids Healthcare Foundation employees staged a protest over poor working conditions, claiming the organization has lost site of its mission are putting patients at risk due to their unnecessary advocacy in the porn industry. Clearly, AHF is not being very effective in the areas where they are needed most, but what they have succeeded at is fueling several big misperceptions about porn and the people that work in it which works against making the industry safer.

The first misperception is that we are not a safe industry, but we are very safe. Our sexually transmitted infection testing protocol is more rigorous than any in the world. Every 14 days we are required to test for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and hepatitis-C. Without a clean test you are not cleared to work. The porn industry has been strictly self-policing for years and has been effective. Anyone involved in this industry understands that there is some risk involved, but risk is involved anytime anybody has sex no matter what line of work they are in. It is a myth that because we choose to have sex for a living we do not care about our health and safety. Being an adult performer has actually made me more careful than I used to be about the choices I make around sex. The inconvenient truth is that it is the general population that is not routinely screening for STIs. According to the Center for Disease Control and Infection, there are over 19 million std cases every year in the U.S., and less than one-third of physicians’ patients are being screened for STIs. Despite the fact that adult performers have sex with far more partners than the average person, no one has contracted HIV on a porn set ┬áin ten years.The HIV rate within the general population is dramatically worse.

The next misperception is who we are. Those who provide sexual services to the public are thought of as the lowliest of people. You could be more educated, more ethical and have a higher credit score, but in our society, getting paid to have sex will trump all of that. In the last decade a new wave of porn performers have swept the industry. Many of us are highly educated or are currently working towards graduate and post-graduate degrees. We have families, pay taxes, and contribute to our retirement funds, just like everyone else. I live in a nice home, drive a nice car, I am working towards a degree in psychology and human sexuality, and I would rather spend a quiet night at home rather than club hopping. I have a great relationship with my family. I speak to my parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews all the time – And yes, they do know what I do for a living. I was never abused. I am not a drug addict, and outside of work I dress rather conservatively. If you ever met me you would find that I am probably not much different from the girl that works down the hall from you. The only difference is that I get paid to have sex. The notion that people in the porn industry can not do anything else and are reduced to a life in adult entertainment is wrong. Some performers left high paying, well established careers because they found more satisfaction in the freedom and excitement of the sex world. I love what I do. I truly enjoy performing and teaching people about sex. I could do anything, but I choose to be in porn because it makes me very satisfied – pun intended.

Too often adult performers are seen as victims to the predatory producers of porn. However, this is true for only a small minority in this industry, and porn is not the only industry to suffer from this problem. Wherever there are young and inexperienced people looking for a break there will always be someone there to take advantage of them whether it is porn, mainstream entertainment, or sports. The solution is not to ostracize the industry and try to get rid of it. The solution is to provide education, resources and support to help those who are interested in getting into the adult industry make the best decisions, and we need to focus on deterring risky people from entering the industry. Slapping a condom on a performer will not keep someone from being misguided by a bad agent, and it will not teach someone about the realities of being in the adult industry. Because while there are those that enjoy being an adult performer, the unfortunate reality is that society still puts a stigma on porn performers that could effect you for the rest of your life. Many young adults get into porn inadequately prepared for the mental and physical challenges involved in being an adult performer. They are thrown into a world they know nothing about, are shamed by their families as well as society, and sometimes end up making bad choices in their personal lives and as performers. As an industry, we operate within a broad realm of sexuality. We explore sexual boundaries and fantasies that, for some, are very intense – such as bondage or gang-bangs. These performances are not for everyone, and we need to make sure performers are educated about the psychological consequences of engaging in a performance you are not comfortable with, and they have an absolute right to say no. That being said, for many in the porn industry exploring sexual boundaries can be liberating and a healthy way to explore one’s sexuality.

Another misperception is that porn is bad for society and we should get rid of it. But buying into this misperception does not just hurt those is the porn industry, it negatively effects you. We are a hyper-sexualized society. Everyday we are exposed to sexual imagery and messages which perpetuate our thirst for sex. There is an over-saturation of sexual innuendos and suggestive messages in American media, and there are constantly stories about sex scandals involving public figures that often advocate against sexual misconduct. Despite the over-sexualization in our society we also remain hyper-repressed. We are constantly told that sex is bad. We withhold information about sex from children for fear of what it may do to them, and we continue to censor images of sex and nudity. Repression causes us to shun sex and push it away, but our need for it causes us to embrace it albeit shamefully. This dichotomy in attitudes is harmful to society. We end up internalizing sexual desire and shaming it. This could lead to all kinds of unhealthy psychological behaviors including obsession and sexual violence. Sexual repression provokes all these negative feelings but these feelings are not stopping us from having sex; They are only causing us to have unhealthy attitudes and experiences around sex and ultimately make bad decisions. Without a better understanding and comfortability with our sexuality we will continue to grow into a misguided and perverse culture.

Throughout our history we have always made efforts to repress sexuality. During the Victorian era there were widespread attempts to keep women from having orgasms under the reasoning that it was immoral for them to experience sexual pleasure, and in the early 1900’s Kellogg’s cereal was originally created to keep men from masturbating. More recently, showing a women’s face while she was orgasming could qualify for an R-rating even if no nudity or sex was shown. Oddly, this rating did not apply to male orgasms but that is an entirely different issue. We still remain so sexually inhibited that we find greater discomfort in knowing our kids are watching sex rather than violence. While many parents get upset and angry that their kids are looking porn on the internet they then turn around and let them play games and watch movies that show people being killed in glorified and unrealistic ways. Recently released is Grand Theft Auto, the video game known for its excessive violence and misogyny, which made $1 billion in sales in only 3 days. This game, which caters to young adults and children, promotes the fantasy of killing, stealing, drug use and even necrophilia. But when it comes to the fantasy of two people having sex, something we will all eventually do, allowing a minor to watch that is unacceptable. So while you may have thought we were passed the age of sexual repression, we are far from it and clearly more confused than ever.

Porn is created as a fantasy for people to enjoy. Everyone has fantasies and it is normal. It is a misconception that if a fantasy is extreme then it is bad. A fantasy is not always a literal interpretation of what one desires. You may be surprised to know that rape is a very common fantasy among women. This absolutely does not mean a women wants to be raped. However, the idea of losing control and experiencing strength beyond yourself is very arousing and rape is where these characteristics are prevalent. Men, as well, find rape fantasies appealing because they are aroused by gaining control. Again, this does not mean men want to rape. Fantasy rape and rape are two completely different things, and for most people, having a fantasy does not translate into them wanting to do that in real life. I believe that often people have fantasies which they feel shame and guilt over and the burden of misunderstanding what is going on in their mind. For those who are able to find information to help them understand the fantasy better they then feel more comfortable with it and feel the freedom to explore it whether in real life or in their minds. As adults we can discern between fantasy and reality, and this is why adult material actually helps people satisfy sexual urges in a safe way. It is when we repress these urges that people experience more sexual dysfunction and insecurity.

Another argument people make why porn is bad is because people get addicted to it, but people get addicted to shopping, food, gambling, the Internet – I could go on forever here. If people continue to blame porn for certain behavior then these people will never be healed of the issues they suffer from which cause them to abuse porn in the first place. That being said, the rate of individuals who abuse porn compared to overall consumers of porn is extremely low. We just choose to sensationalize the worst aspects of porn.

What would happen if we stopped this war on porn and sex and embraced it? Would we become a society that focuses more on sex and loses sight of real issues? Would our children be overly exposed to unhealthy sexual stereotypes – girls playing with dolls dressed as prostitutes, idolizing the objectification of women and learning about sex in all the wrong places. Would our society would be ridden with STD problems, sexual violence and teen pregnancy? Would we become a society where millions of adults have unhealthy, dysfunctional and unsatisfying sexual experiences? No, because we are already there and it is not because of porn. It is because of what we are doing to porn and sex in general, shaming it. Hyper-repression in a hyper-sexualized society creates problems which leads to sexual violence, objectification of women, STDs, teen pregnancy and divorce. This split in attitudes also causes problems for us as individuals. We end up confused and insecure with unsatisfying sex lives and warped images of ourselves and others. And in the worst of cases, we end up abusive or abused. If we embraced porn and understood what it could provide for us we would have a healthier society and healthier sex lives. Going after porn to solve problems may feel good in a self righteous way but that will do nothing towards making the changes that people want and need. And if you do truly care about the safety of performers in the adult industry then embracing adult entertainment and disregarding it as a cause for damage is the best way to ensure safety in porn, not through requiring condoms. The biggest changes in history were not achieved through rules and regulations; They were achieved by changing the way we think about things. Do not be a part of the restrictions that keep us from experiencing a more fulfilled life. Go beyond the misguided confinement that society has put in place and make an effort to understand your sexuality better so we can eradicate the repression that has caused us so much harm. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

-Chanel

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10 thoughts on “HIV Scare in Porn Industry

  1. […] subject. Opportunities are taken away and lowly people are drawn in. We can change this about the sex industry. We can make it work for us, but first we can’t be afraid to accept the realities surrounding […]

  2. J. P. Tabua says:

    I heard once, and I believe, the real problem with porn is not that it’s too real, but that it’s not real enough. I imagine a wicked conversation if I ever have sex with anyone. The talking doesn’t stop in my fantasy. It doesn’t need to be filthy either. I just want life in the bedroom, you know? I’m funny that way. Maybe I’m being too inflexible, but I just want a girl who can tell me how her day is when I’m finally having my day in her pants. Also, with the safe sex thing. I’ve seen some condom porn. It’s not boring, but it makes the porn more real, and the more real the better in my opinion. I think if we got a naughty nurse and she pulled out a rubber, and she told her patient to slip it on, and they had a sexual adventure, it would be hot. I know I’m right about this. Listen: You must have some strange aversion to condoms to think they make sex onscreen un-enjoyable. I really feel sorry for the guys who complain about condoms in porn. Condoms are kinky. Kinky is hot. Porn + kink = something I’m a little uncomfortable talking about, if you know what I mean.

  3. Claude.C says:

    There is no question that people can and should learn through porn. The What-to-do’s but also the what not. Porn has always come along with a bulk of messages. Open ones and hidden, silent ones. Porn is sex acts on film and not sex in a brothel. Porn shows sex in its endless diversity. That makes it a library. And you go to a library aka internet nowadays when your questions not answered anywhere else. But being a library does not automatically mean that all porn content is of educational quality. It dishes out quite the opposite, too. I fully understand teachers und parents saying that they do not want under18s to watch porn for example because porn worships all varieties of incest and family intern sexcapades. Performers play roles they feel fit for and comfortable with. Many seem to feel this way when playing incest on film. Porn is not guilty that there is incest within society. Porn is guilty by saying that it is fun for all. To my knowledge it is common among women to have fantasies about rough and very rough sex. But rape ? That’s new to me. Performers in a rape scene know in advance what they do and have consented upon that. See above. But who wants to see an explicit rape scene on film ? The rapist does not buy it. So who else? Watching and hearing kills curiosity I bet.

    • Chanel Preston says:

      I don’t think people should learn about sex from porn very much at all. Porn is meant to be entertaining and is not an accurate depiction of sexuality. The extent of what one learns from porn might be to expand their minds about different kinds of sexual activities. Also, porn does depict a lot of things that people don’t agree with but isn’t that the same in mainstream movies? In mainstream movies, people kill, rape, steal, etc. and it’s deemed as entertainment, but the moment it’s done in porn than it’s wrong and is believed to influence society in harmful ways. And porn does not depict that certain acts, such as incest, are fun for all. Porn depicts all kinds of fantasies and never do they claim “it’s fun for all” or that “this activity should be enjoyable to everyone”. Different fantasies appeal to different people, and I know you say rape is new to you, but it’s not new to many. Rape is considered to be one of the top fantasies among women by many sex therapists and psychologists. I shoot rape and gangbang scenes and women are a good portion of the viewership for those sites. Fantasy rape and actual rape are two completely different things. If you don’t understand the difference or you don’t understand how someone can fantasize about rape, that does not mean it’s wrong. It just means you don’t understand it.

    • Claude.C says:

      It makes a huge difference if we talk about “rape fantasy” as you did in your post or about “fantasy rape” as in your reply. With “fantasy rape” we’re back on terms together. In women’s fantasy rapes it is only the woman who scripts the whole scenario and not the rapist. She even controls the coerxed nonconsensual parts in her scenario. These usually lack the key elements of real rape: terror, violence, injuries, confusion, rage, disgust. All in one breath you say you shoot rape and gangbang. There are worlds between. I believe it’s scripted fantasy rape what you shoot. Women doing gangbangs in real life speak of sexual and emotional fullfillment or compensation through it and the feeling of superiority over the women in the audience watching them. I would not be surprised to learn that even more women than men watch gangbang scenes.

      • Chanel Preston says:

        Absolutely! The sites I shoot for have many female viewers, and, I agree, that it wouldn’t be shocking to find out that a majority, or close to, are women. And, yes, people should definitely be aware that when I talk about shooting rape or gangbang scenes that they are fantasy rape and fantasy gangbang. When I shoot these I know and trust everyone I am on set with, and I feel very safe. By enjoying, watching, or creating these scenes you are not condoning any of this activity is real life. It is imperative that people understand the difference between fantasy and real life.

  4. Paul says:

    I’m not saying that slapping on a condom is going to solve the issue, I’m not retarded. Hell even I don’t think performers should wear condoms, But I do know what you guys go through to make sure what you do is safe.

    My point was to illustrate that it’s far more important to take responsibility and be pro active. Pretending a problem doesn’t exist is both pathetic and naive, helping and educating people about that problem however is positive. Look at the British government for example, trying to ban internet porn so that kids won’t be able to access it is just plain wrong and stupid, it would be far more useful for them to spend time educating them about it rather then trying to make the problem disappear and pretend it doesn’t exist.

    You say it’s not the porn industries problem to educate kids or people about sex and porn, why not?. You guys are by far and away the most sexually aware and experienced when it comes to this subject. Surely you guys are the best for being able to give advice and insight into sex.

    By taking responsibility and action to help and educate people will start to improve your industry and it’s image, It’s all about taking small steps and being positive.

    • Chanel Preston says:

      The industry, as a whole, may never take on education. However, there are many performers who have been going that route which is great because, you’re right, we are very sexually aware. I think, slowly, performers are starting to take on more of an educator role, and I’m sure the number will continue to rise as more and more people become comfortable with sexuality.

  5. Paul says:

    Good article. Just out of curiosity did you ever stop to think that this so called “Vendetta” against porn that it may just be them realising that a lot of teenagers watch porn and do not know the difference between porn and reality. So by making performers wear condoms, when teenagers watch porn that they might think about wearing a condom rather then not and leaving themselves open to risks they are too young and inexperienced to understand.

    Image is a important part of life especially for youngsters, there minds are controlled by people and easily influenced by what they see, read, hear and watch. From a very young age we learn and copy what we see, it helps us develop and grow. By giving teenagers the impression it’s ok to have sex without condoms it’s more likely they will because they are inexperienced in this area and don’t understand the risks.

    Maybe it’s time for you guys to look at the bigger picture and start working together to help and educate teenagers about the risks of porn and sex, rather then constantly arguing and trying to screw each other over.

    • Chanel Preston says:

      I stop to think about why people’s attitudes about porn are the way they are far more than most individuals, and, I guarantee, the “vendetta” is not as simple as people just realizing teenagers watch porn and learn from it. There are plenty of other reasons.
      A lot of people want to give porn the responsibility to “educate”, and the only reason is because a lot of teenagers watch porn. Porn is not meant to be an educational tool. It is meant to be a fantasy. If kids and teenagers are learning from porn then there is a much bigger problem at hand. You think us deciding to wear condoms is the bigger picture but it’s not. The bigger picture is that teenagers are not learning about sex from effective sources. Teenagers are not comfortable talking about sex, and even adults are not comfortable talking to teenagers about sex. Only fairly recently has comprehensive sex education been more available to the younger generation, and there are still many who fight against it. This is why younger people only have porn to educate them, because that is all that is available to them. If we were more comfortable having a discussion about sex then they wouldn’t have to turn towards porn to learn about it. I’m not saying teenagers would never watch porn, but if they had a better understanding about sex they would understand the difference between a fantasy and what is reality. If they don’t even learn about reality how are they supposed to discern the difference between real sex and porn? Again, porn is not an educational tool, and there are ways we can prevent it from being so. Slapping a condom on a porn performer will not make a difference when it comes to the actual big picture.

      Also, as far as constantly arguing and screwing people over. We are not screwing people over. There are differences in opinion as far as how to keep performers the most safe. You don’t understand how porn is made, and wearing condoms does not necessarily make performers more safe. If it was as easy as you’re implying then we would have invited regular people like you into our industry a while ago and had them fix all of our problems.

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