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HIV outbreak in porn community contained

The industry has lifted a self-imposed moratorium after actors were give the all-clear.
/ Source: Reuters

The lucrative Los Angeles porn film industry, crippled by an HIV outbreak last month, lifted a self-imposed moratorium Wednesday after half the actors placed under quarantine were given the all-clear.

“We feel very confident that there will be no more HIV outbreaks. We have contained this outbreak,” said Sharon Mitchell, director of the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, or AIM, which runs an HIV-screening program for the industry.

The multibillion dollar industry in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, dubbed “Porn Valley,” employs some 6,000 people in 200 production companies turning out dozens of pornographic films and videos a week.

It was thrown into crisis last month when five actors tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in the biggest such outbreak in the Southern California adult industry since 1998. The industry decided to impose a 60-day moratorium on filming in a bid to stop the virus spreading further.

The virus is thought to have been passed by one actor to three women with whom he had on-screen sex without a condom. The fifth person was a transsexual performer unrelated to the other cases.

AIM said on Wednesday that about half of the 50 porn actors under quarantine because they had worked directly with the HIV positive actor or the actresses he had sex with had now tested negative for HIV three times in 45 days.

“If you are not shooting any of the people still under the quarantine list, then I see no reason not to start shooting again,” Mitchell said.

She said she expected those still under quarantine to be taken off the list in the next three or four weeks.

Mitchell said the industry had mostly responded very well to the voluntary shut-down and that there had been no pressure from within the industry to end the moratorium early.

“No one wants to shoot an HIV infection actually happening,” Mitchell said. “Most people realized that the moratorium was a necessary evil.”

The outbreak of the potentially deadly virus prompted calls for mandatory condom use on film sets and inspections of film shoots. But the proposals were resisted by porn film producers who argued that using condoms would take the X out of sex scenes and drive the industry out of California or underground.