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August 10, 2016

Op-Ed: LA Weekly Still In AHF's Pocket On Prop 60

LOS ANGELES—You know, it seems that some people really have little or no idea what the fight over Proposition 60, the "Safer Sex In The Adult Film Industry Act," is all about—and then there are the people who seem so vested in its passage that they are willing to ignore the facts that are right in front of them. And considering the article currently on LA Weekly's website, it's difficult to tell in which camp author Dennis Romero belongs. One could begin with the article's title, "Some Big Players Are Against Safe Sex in Porn," implying that Proposition 60 makes performers more safe, which it doesn't. But perhaps the first real clue is in his description of AIDS Healthcare Foundation as "always-professional." That would be the AIDS Healthcare Foundation that helped drive the adult industry's first official health clinic, AIM, out of business through a bogus lawsuit, filed pro bono by its in-house attorney, claiming that AIM's voluntary medical disclosure form for performers somehow violated federal medical privacy laws. That would be the AIDS Healthcare Foundation that successfully intervened in the lawsuit against the AHF-created Measure B, even though, according to the Wex Law Encyclopedia of the Legal Information Institute, while state laws define the legal concept of standing, "At the heart of these statutes is the requirement that plaintiffs have sustained or will sustain direct injury or harm and that this harm is redressable." That definition became law nationwide when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the plaintiff's standing in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop 8 same-sex marriage case, and since AHF, of course, would sustain no direct injury or harm from adult performers not using condoms, it had a duty to withdraw from the Measure B suit. The "always professional" AHF didn't. That would be the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, an alleged non-profit, that has spent millions more on partisan political activities than is allowed by the Internal Revenue Service rules, including not only Measure B/Prop 60 but is also currently collecting signatures for another ballot initiative to prevent the city from building more high-rise apartment buildings—another action that somehow doesn't seem to have anything to do with the treatment of HIV. It also filed what The Advocate described as "a bogus Food and Drug Administration complaint against Gilead Sciences for allegedly conspiring to promote Truvada," which AHF president Michael Weinstein described as a "party drug, " for alleged "situational, off-label use." The basis of the complaint was an ad run on Australian TV which AHF completely misinterpreted, as noted in detail here. As Romero correctly notes, those opposed to Prop 60 far outnumber its supporters, but he then goes on to quote, without analysis, the "Yes on 60" campaign's claim that Prop 60 would "close loopholes in a California health and safety rule in effect since 1992," adding that "adult filmmakers outside L.A. County ... can sidestep mandatory condom use if nobody files a specific complaint with the state about their particular productions." Of course, what Romero fails to mention is that Prop 60 would allow any citizen of California to file a lawsuit against any California production that the citizen perceived (rightly or wrongly) was not using "engineering controls and work practice controls" (as defined by Health Code Sec. 5193) if the California Division of Occupational Safety & Health (Cal/OSHA) decline to take action on the complaint within 45 days of its filing. Those "work practice controls" include the use of "eye protection" (better known as goggles), latex gloves and "protective clothing." Romero has previously termed this clear reading of the Health Code section as "propaganda." Regarding the passage of Prop 60, Romero writes, "The [AIDS Healthcare] foundation has long said this is a matter of life or death for performers," even though not one single adult performer in the past 20 years has died from a sexually transmitted infection, and no performer in California has contracted HIV while filming an adult feature in more than 12 years. Romero also notes that AHF will be "rolling out some porn-star power with a television ad in favor of the proposition airing this week," adding, "It will feature ex-performer Cameron Adams [known in adult as Cameron Bay], who says she became HIV-positive after working briefly in porn." "After working briefly in porn" is the latest iteration of Bay's claim that she contracted HIV on the set of a Kink.com shoot, even though all of those who had worked with her subsequently tested negative for HIV—but maybe that's just another example of AHF's "professionalism" as channeled through Dennis Romero.

 
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