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The Diseases of Pornography

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

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."

It's ironic that our news media are such evangelists for "safe sex" with condoms, and very critical of anyone who's anti-condom as a menace to society, but they haven't forced that latex gospel on the porn industry, despite the obvious threat of fatal sexually transmitted diseases between strangers on the set.

Then there's the gay-porn industry -- which as a rule requires condoms in films, but doesn't even HIV-test their stars. Without much irony, Jay Barmann of the San Francisco blog SFist reported, "The HIV status of gay porn performers is a particular taboo subject, with a kind of don't-ask-don't-tell attitude proliferating in the industry, which mostly tries to keep performers safe by requiring condom use and which fears bad publicity from performers revealing their statuses."


In response to this environment, the porn company Treasure Island Media recently took the shocking step of promoting a gay couple with one HIV-negative and one HIV-positive partner having "unprotected" sex as "role models." Paul Morris, the company's owner, spoke of demolishing "the HIV-positive closet" and pledged, "We will not allow reactionary individuals and organizations to dictate our behavior." HIV and AIDS are "more or less manageable," he said. "The real battle is against prejudice, ignorance and unfounded and useless fear."

Barmann, no anti-porn "prude," was shocked for the public health and for the rights of actors. "Say what he will about battling prejudice and fear, Morris stands to benefit financially from the unprotected sex his performers agree to have, and he is nonetheless an employer who knowingly puts his workers in harm's way."

Our media just found it wildly controversial that the Pope might hypothetically suggest a male prostitute using a condom may be trying to show a health concern for others. But somehow, there is no controversy or debate when secular sexual progressives fail to crusade against pornographers on something so contrary to their own condom-promoting "safe sex" philosophy. The old AIDS slogan was "Silence equals death." Who will speak out before the next greedy Derrick Burts gets infected?


Just how stupid are the Derricks of this world to get involved in death-trap industries like this?


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