PORN INSIDERS SPEAK OUT ABOUT AIM CLINIC’S CLOSING

[Editorial Note: WARNING! Serious article ahead!]

As of late last week, AIM Healthcare Foundation’s flagship clinic in Sherman Oaks, California, has been temporarily shuttered due to a “business-related issues.” AIM (Adult Industry Medical) and LA County health officials both seem to be holding the line that a license issue popped up in the paperwork, but word in the jizz biz is that there might be something a little fishier going on.

The HIV-infected adult performer formerly known only as “Patient Zeta,” a gay-straight crossover performer whose positive test results came out back in October revealed himself last week, on December 8, as Derrick Burts, aka “Cameron Reid” in the straight porn world and “Derek Chambers” in the gay industry (he worked in both). Not only was he willing to give out his real identity, but he was ready to tell the world that AIM Healthcare testing is not enough to protect porn performers and that he was siding with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an AIDS activist group that has been trying to get AIM shut down for months, if not years. We’ve documented the ridiculous battle AHF has waged in the face of overwhelming evidence that the AIM and industry-specific testing has been doing an exemplary job of protecting performers from HIV/AIDS, as well as judiciary disinterest and Cal-OSHA head-shaking, and we frankly think that AHF is a bunch of knee-jerk couch-activists with no clue how the industry works or concern for performers. But that’s beside the point.

The point is that, despite the official line that paperwork is to blame for AIM’s “temporary” hiatus from the testing circuit and that everything will be back to normal soon, it seems awfully suspicious that Derrick Burts’s public announcement, in which he slammed AIM for irresponsible reporting of his results, negligence in follow-up, and refusal to provide him with enough information, stated that testing was not enough to protect porn performers, and sided with AHF’s demands that all porn should be condom-mandatory, came one day before AIM was shut down. It seems strangely coincidental that AHF’s long-held dream of ripping the one thing adult performers really seem in place to protect them came true immediately after a hugely public spectacle in which a performer sided with the condom-mandatory folks, and media outlets were all there to watch.

Nobody’s saying that AIM, which offers comprehensive, state-of-the-art, easily accessible testing in a non-judgmental and safe environment, and makes test results results easy to access via a comprehensive and up-to-date database, is perfect. Burts’s experience implies that the workings there could be more honest, open, and efficient, and Devon James, an adult performer who lives in Florida but often works in California, said that her last trip to California for testing and shooting “was one problem after another, stemming from my AIM test results, or lack thereof ! My results were days late! … I was told to wait 48 hours [for results], and scheduled accordingly, knowing that I was indeed STD free, and safe. But my results were ‘misplaced’! …When I did receive the results,  they were not mine! I was given results of another person tested at that clinic!” She lost shoot time and money into the  bargain.

But despite its shortcomings, AIM testing is (or was) helping. James is quick to point out that AIM usually does a wonderful job. “I would like to add that I of course have been there several times; as you know it is a must before each shoot. I will say that in past visits, all went smooth and as expected.” Adult director and brains behind Puba Power, Ivan, vociferated, “The one thing that  seems to escape everyone’s grasp is that AIM actually did its job. AIM actually caught the disease and prevented the spread, which is what we all want. We should be praising AIM, not pointing fingers.”

Despite his turnaround, Burts himself is a perfect example of AIM’s efficacy. While both gay and straight porn stars are frequently tested for HIV/AIDS and other diseases, the majority of the gay industry does not require a recent, negative HIV test from performers before a scene because most gay studios require condom use on the set. So, while it’s pretty safe to perform in a gay scene where condoms are being used, it’s entirely possible that your partner has HIV, and if anything goes awry (if the condom breaks before anyone notices, if the ejaculate lands in the wrong place, etc), you’re at risk. AIM testing, which is the standard for the straight porn industry, isn’t perfect: there’s a window of about a month during which a performer can have the HIV virus in his or system before it shows up on a test. But at least in Burts’s case, if his partner had been required to show his test results, more precautions may have been taken and he may not have ended up with HIV. (All this “his partner in a gay sex scene” business is in dispute, of course, like much of the rest of this debacle: Burts claims that the AIM people told him privately he’d contracted HIV from another performer, whose identity they refused to share, but AIM has publicly announced that he contracted HIV in his private life and brought into the industry. I’m using the former hypothesis because it proves my point, but I have no way of knowing which is true.)

So, while I feel for the guy and understand his position, I can’t really agree with him that AHF and condom-mandatory shoots are the way to protect performers. And shutting down AIM, while supposedly it has nothing to do with Burts or AHF, is not the way to help anyone. Kristina Rose, an AVN-nominated performer, wrote that she is “shocked and confused” by the situation. “I’m so angry and sad and honestly worried. We need to be talking about this. We can’t let it get swept under the rug again,” as HIV/AIDS issues in the porn industry usually are once the media attention has died down. “Closing AIM,” she continued, “isn’t going to solve anything. I think this is just another example of why testing should be mandatory on BOTH sides of the industry and also that some people need a reality check.”

In the meantime, performers are being urged to go to other clinics — LA County Health Director Jonathan Fielding has suggested county-sponsored clinics — for testing, albeit without the aid of AIM’s comprehensive performer database. Kristina says, “I guess I’ll be going to Talent Testing Services. They’ve been around for a while and have a similar set up to AIM. A lot of performers use them. But how long will it be until the government takes that away from us too?”

—Miss Lagsalot

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.