Porn Studios Blasted for Not Cooperating With County Health Officials

Apr 20, 2011 11:15 AM PST

LOS ANGELES — Porn production studios are being faulted for not providing performer information to Los Angeles County public health officials.

The Los Angeles Times published an article based on a report by Dr. Francisco Meza, a physician with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report focused on Derrick Burts, known as Patient Zeta, and how he contracted HIV last October.

The article said that county officials are usually quick to determine the origin of the disease and to identify anyone exposed to illness to prevent it from spreading further, but not in this case.

Meza’s report found that two male performers were HIV-positive when they had sex with Burts and that public health officials were unable to conduct a thorough investigation because adult studios refused to cooperate with officials and because of the use of stage names by performers.

According to Meza’s report, Burts said he had sex with six men and 10 women, but officials only contacted five of them and they refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Meza in his report urged for adult production companies to use condoms regardless of the sex act being performed and for production companies to give health officials the names of performers.

Miles Long, a veteran director for Zero Tolerance and Third Degree Films, told XBIZ that those in the adult industry are acutely aware of not only everyone's safety, but also the privacy and legal rights with regards to HIPAA disclosure and the penalties associated with it.

HIPPA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and address the security and privacy of health data, among other health-related topics.

"It is sad to see a news agency, which is supposed to report in an unbiased fashion, choose instead to report only partial truths and a portion of the information available in order to cast a negative light on an industry that not only has provided employment for so many of us, but also close friends and a home as well," Long said.

Long also points out that the article makes no distinction between the gay side and the straight side of the industry. He said he couldn’t speak for the gay side but, "Within the straight side of the industry, we have a mandatory testing system in place, specifically to protect our performers, who are our friends, as well as our industry as a whole.

“This system that is in place has not only proven effective, but also is protected from any outside prying eyes by federal law, which mandates stiff penalties for anyone who discloses patient information for any reason to unauthorized persons."

Long noted that Patient Zeta engaged in activity in both straight and gay sides and allegedly escorted as well.

"We are keenly aware of the risks, as well as our obligations to each other, and not just public health. If the public at large would engage in the same safe sex and testing practices that we voluntarily use within our industry then we would all indeed be seeking to better public health," Long said.

"When an outside news agency fails to accurately disclose the reasons why companies refused to violate federal law, it simply points out that there are people in this world who may be more interested in their own agendas than either public health."

Vivid founder Steven Hirsch said,"We believe that the testing that's currently in place works and works well."

Meza’s report was supposed to have been presented at a CDC conference in Atlanta last Friday but the presentation was canceled because the county’s attorneyCounty Counsel was concerned about patient privacy, said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health director.  

"The Public Health [Department] must balance the desire for transparency with the need to protect personal privacy," the County Health Department said in a statement.

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