“John Doe,” identified by AHF spokesperson Ged Kenslea as having worked in both gay and straight films for about two years, did not offer details about when he contracted the infection, from whom, or if the transmission occurred on a porn set.
To be clear, this fourth performer has not been acknowledged as being on the HIV radar by the adult industry. Where was this person tested, and why were none of his scene partners notified?
But the presence of Darren James (HIV class of 2004, Brazil) and Derrick Burts (2010, also nowhere near Porn Valley), Summer, 2013 infectees Cameron Bay and Rod Daily, and Patrick Stone, who said he was likely false-positive, was another thoughtfully-staged public relations slam dunk for the AHF.
“The porn industry chews up performers and spits them out,” said AHF president Michael Weinstein, later tweeting the statement. “The industry violates multiple laws for the sake of profit. It’s time for change.”
Among those laws violated, Weinstein claimed, was the Free Speech Coalition’s (FSC) decision to share Cameron Bay’s August 22 test results with its board members, who are not doctors.
“When you first start (in porn), it’s great; They want you, they have to have you,” said Bay. “But as soon as you test positive, you become just a liability.”
The AHF incorporated the hashtag #PASSFAIL to mock PASS, the Performer Availability Screening Services that has become the recognized testing network for the porn industry nationwide.
“Why did @FSCArmy share HIV+ test results with board members? They’re not healthcare providers. They’re pornographers. #PASSFAIL,” tweeted @AB640, another AHF-controlled account linked to the statewide Condoms In Porn bill that stalled last week.
In the wake of the diagnoses and shutdown, Rod Daily has emerged as the least impeachable voice. Whereas James, Burts, and Bay have HIV origin stories tainted with escorting (or worse, Brazil), Daily has continued to speak positively and articulately about his worldview and is a relative moderate among AHF’s Porn Valley HIV pool in framing the struggle between the porn industry and AHF.
“The AHF isn’t here to take down the porn industry,” Daily said. “They’re here to make sure performers are safe and taken care of.”
Through the campaign, Weinstein has hammered the theme that the porn industry is only interested in profit and repeatedly fails its performers, not protecting them adequately and turning its back on them if they become ill.
But I cannot shake the feeling, personally, that in AHF’s cherrypicking of facts, its LeBron James-like unveiling of “John Doe” (what was this if not a publicity stunt?), its historical choice of dubious porn survivors (Shelly Lubben, Burts), and its reliance on an uneducated public that will accept spoonfed and selective factoids, that it so easily levels charges against the porn industry because those crimes are apparent in its own agenda. For me, it is very difficult to trust the ends if the means are so suspect.
But it is getting more and more difficult—if it has ever been easy—for the porn industry to plead its own case. Performers can talk about free speech and personal choice, and studios can talk about consumer disapproval of condoms, but HIV-positive performers inhabit a special VIP area; even if they did not contract HIV on set, there is little to no safety net for them within Porn Valley’s infrastructure (the AHF helpfully tweeted that a fund for Bay has generated only $1600, whereas the lifetime cost of HIV treatment is estimated at $567,000). Not only that, but these people can no longer work, in any consumer-meaningful way, in front of the camera, so it is true that the adult business has no need for them. Who needs them? The AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Blindsided—as was probably AHF’s plan—by the big reveal, the Free Speech Coalition responded a few hours later (via XBiz.com):
FSC and its program Performer Availability Screening Services (PASS) would like to respond to some misinformation conveyed in AHF’s earlier press conference.
All performers that worked with Cameron Bay tested negative for HIV. She did not contract HIV on-set, nor did she expose any partners. The doctor working with Ms. Bay contacted her as soon as her results were in and she was sent all of her tests results, including the viral load.
Rod Daily had tested negative in July and worked on all-condoms sets during the time in question.
We have been given no real information of a fourth performer. If there is real evidence of a fourth performer, then the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) should have contacted the adult industry for assistance in generational identification. It is unconscionable and irresponsible for AHF to use any individual as a political pawn in a press conference, rather than work through the necessary protocols to make sure that any partners are identified and tested for the safety of all concerned.
“We in the FSC and the adult film community work with a dedicated group of physicians on an ongoing basis to review and improve our testing protocols,” said Diane Duke, FSC CEO. “While producers and directors can control the film set environment, we can’t control what performers do in private. We need to do more to help performers understand how to protect themselves in their private lives. Therefore, PASS plans to support STI prevention education in order to provide performers the information and resources that will protect them when they are off set as well.”
See also: Free Speech Coalition, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, 4th HIV-Positive Performer Speaks at AHF Press Event (xbiz.com)