Syphilis outbreak a buzzkill for US porn

US - A porn industry trade group has announced a US moratorium on production of adult sex movies after several reported cases of syphilis among adult movie actors, adding to the pressure on porn producers to require the use of condoms on sets.

The actors can return to work in 10 days after taking antibiotics, and doctors have recommended treating all adult movie actors as a precaution, the LA-based Free Speech Coalition said in a statement on its website.

It added that filming had been halted until further notice. "Clearly our industry's priority is the health and well-being of our performers," Diane Duke, the executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, said in the statement.

Porn producers in the LA area-the heart of the US adult film industry and home to an estimated 1,000 performers-are under pressure to ensure condom use on sets to prevent the spread of HIV and other STDs.

Existing California workplace laws already mandate the use of condoms by porn performers, but critics say that statute isn't specifically aimed at the industry and is widely flouted. An LA ballot initiative in November will ask voters to force the county health department to require condom use by adult movie performers.

Dr Jonathan Fielding, the director of the LA County Department Of Public Health, said his agency was investigating less than a dozen reported cases of syphilis involving the adult movie industry. All the cases so far involved adult movie performers or their partners, he said.

"It's not surprising that there would be a lot of cases in the adult film industry, since they are having a lot of unprotected sex and often with multiple partners," said Fielding.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has led a campaign to involve local officials in regulating the use of condoms in the adult movie industry, was critical of the porn industry decision to have all its performers receive antibiotic treatment, rather than take the time to trace the outbreak.

"They just want to throw an antibiotic blanket over the whole thing," AIDS Healthcare President Michael Weinstein said.

His nonprofit succeeded in January in persuading LA city officials to adopt a condom requirement for porn performers. The city is still determining how to enforce the policy, but it won't cover studio sound stages.

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