Derrick Burts, 24, started working as a porn-film actor in June. By October, he'd contracted the HIV virus. The AP story on Burts contained this jaw-dropping sentence: "He said he began to have doubts about the business after contracting chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes in his first month of work, but was convinced to keep working."
Burts claimed, "I wasn't stupid or oblivious, I knew what was out there. But it's not something you think about when they fill your head" with lucrative offers and promises that the work is safe. Lured into the porn world with the promise that he looked like money, Burts concluded his greed was unwise: "Making $10,000 or $15,000 for porn isn't worth your life."
Michael Weinstein, head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, took up the Burts case. While he insisted his group isn't anti-porn, "we are astounded that the multi-billion-dollar film industry and its fig leaf of a clinic could not even get it together six weeks after his first HIV-positive test to link (Burts) to appropriate follow-up medical care."
Lawyers for the porn industry's clinic, the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, which performed the HIV test on Burts, insisted any claim he was not properly treated is "not truthful and ... self-serving." But the California Department of Public Health just denied its application to operate. Once again, the porn industry looks shady.
Burts says the clinic told him he contracted the HIV virus at a gay porn shoot in Florida, but the clinic told the press that he must have become infected in his personal life. Translation: Whom are you going to trust -- a porn star or the porn industry? This evolving story comes six years after up to 14 porn actors tested HIV-positive, forcing several porn companies to close.
Porn moguls obviously want the "talent" to feel safe, but they don't want to film scenes with condoms -- for monetary reasons. The pornographers at Vivid Entertainment said when they became a mandatory-condom company for nearly seven years, they saw their sales drop nearly 20 percent.
Pornography isn't just unhealthy for our culture; it's unhealthy for the "talent" that star in these films, with the endless carousel of sex partners. It should be only a matter of time before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (or their California equivalent) starts investigating -- unless, of course, government officials are too afraid of appearing like squelchers of a Howard Stern version of "freedom of speech."
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