Update: Feb. 18, 4:30 p.m.

California’s Divison of Occupational Safety and Health — Cal/OSHA — rejected proposed regulations Thursday that would have required actors in all porn films statewide to use condoms.

Cal/OSHA’s Standards Board voted 3-2 to accept the new regulations, but needed four “yes” votes to pass. The board voted to ask Cal/OSHA staff to work on new regulations for the porn industry.

The board heard five hours of testimony from scores of actors, writers, directors and producers at the hearing in Oakland.

Several said doing so would force the industry underground, prompting it to film in secret, which would essentially make all those involved criminals. They added it might also put an end to the industry’s own requirement that actors be tested for sexually transmitted disease every 14 days.

“I ask you not to approve this policy that will endanger me and my colleagues,” porn actress Maxine Holloway said during the hearing that continued.

The problem, several speakers said, is that a large segment of their audience loses interest in a film when they see actors with condoms. “Like it or not, there a very real market demand for condomless sex,” said one woman who identified herself as a sex worker.

Original post:

Adult film executives are complaining that proposed state health and safety regulations threaten to drive the industry out of the state.

California regulators with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) will vote on new rules Thursday that would require performers to use condoms, dental dams, and even eye gear on set.

Performers say the rules go too far.

“If you think about how porn is looking today, and how it’ll look after February 18th, we’re talking about gloves, full body cover, and goggles,” said Eric Leue, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, a porn industry trade group. “It’s going to turn into surgical porn.”

The majority of adult films globally are produced in California. In 2012, Los Angeles County passed a local law mandating condom use on adult film sets. But statewide, the rules are more vague.

The adult film industry is regulated by the same health and safety codes that govern hospitals. Film producers are required to protect actors against certain infections that can be sexually transmitted. But the regulations don’t specify that performers must use condoms.

The new proposed regulations clarify this. If passed, they will take effect this spring.

“The industry had been complaining that the reason they were violating the regulations was because they didn’t apply to them,” said Adam Cohen, a public health consultant with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a nonprofit that has been pushing for the new rules since 2009. “This will put on the books, officially, that the state of California sees adult film employees as deserving of worker health and safety protections.”

The industry fears the requirements could hit their bottom line.

“For the consumer, there’s not going to be the fantasy, there’s not going to be the artistic vision and the expression of sexual freedom,” Leue says. “It’s going to be hazmat suits.”

Supporters of the rules reject that.

“That’s 100 percent hyperbole,” says Cohen. “There are many studios that film exclusively with condoms and have stated publicly that their sales are fantastic.”

Twenty-eight percent of adult film workers tested positive for chlamydia and/or gonorrhea, according to a 2012 study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

The proposed Cal/OSHA rules would also require producers to pay for medical visits for performers and offer vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and HPV. They also require testing performers for sexually transmitted infections every three months.

Leue says performers feel that the Cal/OSHA board did not adequately consider their input on how the regulations would affect them, or their suggestions for alternate prevention strategies, such as PrEP, a daily pill that has been shown to prevent new HIV infections, but is also associated with less condom use and higher rates of other sexually transmitted infections. (The proposed regulations were updated to recommend performers discuss PrEP with a doctor).

Leue also says studios already test more frequently than the proposed rules: every two weeks vs. every three months.

“Testing is not prevention,” says Cohen. “Taking an STD test to prevent an STD is like taking a pregnancy test to prevent pregnancy. Testing, and condoms, is the best form of prevention.”

This post includes reporting from the Associated Press. 

Cal/OSHA Rejects Condom Requirement in Porn Films 19 February,2016April Dembosky

Author

April Dembosky

April Dembosky is the health reporter for The California Report and KQED News. She covers health policy and public health, and has reported extensively on the economics of health care, the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act in California, mental health and end-of-life issues.

Her work is regularly rebroadcast on NPR and has been recognized with awards from the Society for Professional Journalists (for sports reporting), and the Association of Health Care Journalists (for a story about pediatric hospice). Her hour-long radio documentary about home funerals won the Best New Artist award from the Third Coast International Audio Festival in 2009.

April occasionally moonlights on the arts beat, covering music and dance. Her story about the first symphony orchestra at Burning Man won the award for Best Use of Sound from the Public Radio News Directors Inc.

Before joining KQED in 2013, April covered technology and Silicon Valley for The Financial Times, and freelanced for Marketplace and The New York Times. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and Smith College.

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