HIV-positive porn actor was told: “You’re not going to make any money if you wear a condom.”

December 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm (adult, Los Angeles, Uncategorized)

From LA Times:

Porn performer Derrick Burts, 24, learned he was HIV-positive in October after getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases at a healthcare clinic in the San Fernando Valley that serves the adult film industry.

Burts’ positive test result Oct. 9 came a little more than a month after he had last tested HIV-negative at the same clinic, the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, known as AIM. In the weeks in between, he worked on both gay and straight porn sets in California and Florida.
Burts, who performed in straight films as “Cameron Reid” and gay films as “Derek Chambers,” spoke publicly about his diagnosis for the first time Tuesday in an interview with The Times at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation offices in Hollywood. He is scheduled to speak at a 10 a.m. Wednesday news conference.
He sought help from the foundation, which has long been critical of the straight porn industry’s testing protocol and failure to require condom use, after becoming disappointed in his follow-up care at Sherman Oaks-based AIM.
Burts said he now wants to speak out to warn others that the work he was doing was “very dangerous.”
“What they tell you in porn is, ‘You’re not going to make any money if you wear a condom, you know, viewers don’t want to see that,’ ” he told The Times, “so I didn’t even know you had an option to wear a condom. I had never seen a condom on a straight set in my entire life.”
The gay and straight porn industries take different approaches to stemming the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Gay porn producers typically require condom use, but not HIV testing. In the San Fernando Valley-based straight porn industry, regular tests are required of workers, but condom use is rare.
Burts said that after getting his test results he gave AIM clinic staff the names of about a dozen performers he had worked with in the previous weeks in both gay and straight productions in California and Florida.
AIM officials said last month that no one on their quarantine list had tested HIV-positive. It was not clear whether the list included all the performers named by Burts since he worked out of state and on gay productions.
AIM officials could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night. One attorney for the clinic was traveling outside the U.S., according to an e-mail from him earlier in the day.
The clinic has drawn criticism from AIDS activists and state officials who say clinic officials have failed to promptly report HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
In 2004, a male porn star, Darren James, contracted HIV and spread the virus to three female performers before it was detected. The outbreak shut down porn production for a month.
James, who has also become a proponent of condom use on porn sets, told The Times last year that he felt he had received poor follow-up care from AIM clinic officials. He spoke about his experiences after a female performer tested HIV-positive. After her diagnosis no other cases were detected among performers and clinic officials said she had rarely worked in the industry
In recent weeks, state workplace safety officials have been considering whether to mandate condom use and additional testing for porn performers.
Last month, AIM officials said the most recent testing “affirms the efficacy of AIM Healthcare Foundation’s testing protocols, as voluntarily implemented by the adult entertainment industry,” adding that “it is regrettable but inevitable that people continue to acquire the HIV virus in their personal life.”
Burts said Tuesday that clinic officials told him they had traced his infection to another performer, who he said they described as a “known positive.”
He called AIM’s statement “completely false.” “There is no possible way. The only person I had sex with in my personal life was my girlfriend.”
His girlfriend, who accompanied him to the interview Tuesday, is also an adult film performer and was among the performers whose names he gave AIM, Burts said. She is HIV-negative, he said.

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