PVV – (un)healthy trouble may be brewing…?

I don’t know anything about what’s going on with all this beyond what I’m reading in the news and new bits and stories keep coming out, so keep all that in mind. Something is definitely going on though, and (un)healthy trouble may be brewing…

In a nutshell: On June 11th (I believe), the Free Speech Coalition (FSC) issued this statement

“Dear Adult Industry Producers and Directors,

Shy Love [owner and operator of ATMLA] has called a producer meeting about performer testing to be held at Penthouse on Tuesday, June 12th. FSC has not been invited to this meeting. Based on uncountable conversations with Ms. Love, we expect her to denigrate FSC’s testing program and promote a non-APHSS testing facility [Talent Testing Service, or TTS]. To ensure that accurate information about the APHSS program and its protocols is disseminated, below is clarification of the three most critical components in question.

First, APHSS protocols require that all tests be ordered by a medical provider licensed to practice within the state. In many states, including California and Florida, a medical provider’s involvement is required by law. Under most states’ laws, clinical laboratories must obtain a request from a health care provider and can release test results only to the health care provider who ordered the test. In addition, patients in most states do not have the right to obtain their test results directly from a clinical laboratory.

Moreover, a performer who tests positive for a sexually transmitted infection will need treatment for that infection. Continuity of care is critical for the health and well-being of performers. APHSS providers can immediately follow up with a performer  who tests positive for Chlamydia or Gonorrhea for counseling, medical treatment, and eventually retesting…

Second, APHSS accepts the Aptima HIV-1RNA Qualitative Assay and the Abbot RealTime HIV 1 Assay HIV PCR tests. After considerable research and contact with infectious disease specialists,pathologists and physicians, APHSS determined that these two tests best meet the needs of our performer population. Both tests have the 9 to 11day window. The Aptima test is sanctioned by the FDA for detection and diagnosis of HIV. The Abbot test is sanctioned by the FDA to determine the viral load of HIV–the amount of the HIV virus present. While the Aptima has been FDA approved for diagnostic, the Abbot test has been identified by experts as an excellent option for the industry because of the doctor’s ability to know the value of the viral load.  The purpose of the initial HIV test is to screen for the presence of HIV, not to diagnose. If a performer tests positive, an additional diagnostic test will then be administered–regardless of the initial test’s brand.

Finally, APHSS requires all providers to enter information for APHSS performers into our availability database…The database has been built with several layers of security. In order to ensure performer privacy and to comply with HIPAA regulations (federal medical privacy laws), the producer/director’s database-interface displays only a performer’s availability for work – ‘Available’ or ‘Not Available.’ The database’s public interface contains no personal or medical information. This system was created to enhance performer privacy and reduce producer/director liability.”

So clearly, a divide is brewing within the industry regarding 1) what tests adult performers should be getting and 2) what service providers they should be going to to monitor their STI statuses… at least according to that statement from FSC.

AVN‘s Mark Kernes offered up an extremely detailed account of the aforementioned June 12th meeting. Here are some bits:

“Today’s meeting was called in part because some adult industry testing facilities have been using the Abbott Real-Time HIV-1 Amplification test, which unlike the Aptima is a ‘quantitative’ test not FDA-approved for diagnosing HIV, but which instead measures the ‘viral load’ (virus copies per milliliter of blood) of an infected person—which of necessity means the test would have to detect the HIV virus in the first place. [Dr. Tadd S. Lazarus, Vice-President of Clinical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for Gen-Probe, the company that makes the Aptima HIV-1 RNA Qualitative Assay test] stated that the Aptima test can detect a viral load of 15 or lower, depending on circumstances, while the Abbott test can detect a load as low as 30…

‘[The Abbott test] is utilized in a population that you already know is HIV-infected,’ [Dr. Lazarus] added later. ‘Those people receive therapy, as all people who are infected do now, and the purpose of that test is to give you an indication of effectiveness of therapy, period. You need a much more sensitive test if you’re going to be using it to screen people whose HIV status is unknown, such as your performers…'”

So basically, according to Dr. Lazarus, Aptima is hyper-sensitive and best for earliest detection. Abbott, though sensitive, is better for measuring viral load – like telling “how far along” someone is. Mark Kernes went on to report that:

“The undercurrent to today’s proceeding, however, was the dispute that’s currently going on between the clinics approved for talent testing by the Adult Performer Health and Safety Services (APHSS) organization, which was formed by Free Speech Coalition to replace the now-closed AIM Healthcare Associates, and a clinic, Talent Testing Services (TTS), which at this point does not qualify to be an APHSS provider, in part because the clinic does not have a California-licensed medical doctor overseeing the testing at their in-state facilities.

One point in favor of TTS that was brought up by Shy Love was that it has a ‘clinic in every state,’ but a look at the company’s website indicates that for every location outside of Northridge, California and Miami, Florida, performers must spend at least $25 (up to $46.55 in one case) just to get their blood drawn, and another $35 to have the blood shipped to the testing laboratory—and that’s on top of the $110 cost of the test itself. On the other hand, the APHSS-affiliated Advanced Medical Testing Center (AMTC) has more than 4,000 locations, and charges a maximum of $149 per test with no additional charges.”

And then, in an extremely surprising move yesterday (5/12/12), Manwin – Manwin!? – jumps in with two decrees:

1. New Production Standards: “As of July 1, 2012, adult entertainers performing in scenes commissioned for websites belonging to Manwin will have to provide health tests that are no older than 15 days. Manwin will pay for all additional tests needed under these new rules, in case a performer works for any of the company’s brands multiple times in a 30-day period.”

2. Gen Probe Aptima machine donated to Cutting Edge Testing: “…Manwin has purchased the Gen Probe Aptima machine for Cutting Edge Testing. This piece of equipment performs the Aptima RNA Qualitive Assay, the FDA approved test that Manwin requires as part of the new health standards and procedures from producers, performers and agents.”

Woooooooo…

So basically, there are two camps developing regarding where performers should be testing and what types of tests are the most effective in detecting HIV (and thus protecting performers’ health and safety). One organization [TTS] seems to have the tests and the locations, but not the unified record-keeping/monitoring and the doctors and other legal things. The other system [APHSS] has a network of affiliated organizations that provide the legal and back-end services that the other does not; and now, thanks to Manwin ne PiracyWin, can also provide the most sensitive testing services.

So it’s the APHSS system all the way then? Hmmmm…

Part of me loves that Manwin threw its support behind APHSS  and “changed the [production] game” (as so many people are saying) by stepping up to cover the costs associated with increased, Manwin-mandated testing requirements… cuz more often seems better than less!!

…but I hate to say that I’m also looking at this entire situation with a great deal of incredulity.

This is Manwin. They now control the lion’s share of adult content production, and their lair seems to be growing by the day. So, in many cases, if you’re an adult performer and you wanna work, you have to agree to their more frequent testing protocol. But I wonder about the actual, on the ground implications of this. Consider:

– Performer A is at the top of her game and works all the time. She pays for one test a month and likely gets a second one from Manwin as an added bonus!! Score for her – free safety (not that she was hurting for money).

– Performer B is not at the top of her game. For any number of reasons, she doesn’t work all the time… but she pays for her monthly test, which may actually be a noticeable chunk out of her pocket. The impact of paying for one test per month is different between Performers A and B. Further, if Performer B tests on the first of the month, but then works for Manwin on the 20th, she may have to pay for a second test in one month (cuz Manwin owns a lot, but they don’t own everything). As an added glitch, the second test on the 20th might throw off her “testing fee schedule,” messing up a booking at the end of the following month (for example).

Although Manwin’s policy certainly helps Performer B in terms of STI protection (and, let’s not kid ourselves, helps protect them in terms of liability), it does not actually help her in terms of one thing I’ve heard many performs mention quite often – the cost of testing. In fact, it increases her costs while ultimately decreasing Manwin’s (again, think long-term liability).

I did a series of interviews once wherein a woman performer said something along the lines of: “If someone can’t afford $150 for a test, then they’re clearly not taking this job seriously and probably should be doing it.” Ok… Though I can’t say that I agree with her statement, I can’t say that I completely disagree with it either. It’s an interesting tension – the cost of testing relative to professional costs associated with any job.

But what I’m stuck on here is Manwin…

Maybe, just maybe, Manwin has always been good… Maybe they’re sleeper cell activists and have used any means necessary to get to a point where they can enact – force!! – changes that are, in many instances, better for many (but not all) performers.

Or, maybe they are like Saul when he changed his name to Paul or the Cameron Diaz character in Any Given Sunday (1999) – assholes who realize that “asshole” is not really a fulfilling way to be and have decided to start being nice.

Or maybe they’re Manwin.

Gah, I don’t know – I just want people to be safe and human and actualized and profitable in their chosen profession, whatever that is.

* * *

Read…

“A Statement About Performer Testing From FSC Executive Director Diane Duke” here.

“Manwin Sets New Production Standards: Company encourages stricter regulations for producers, performers and agents” here.

“Manwin Donates Gen Probe Aptima Machine to Cutting Edge” here.

“Producers Meet to Hear HIV Testing Procedures Explained: Initiated by agent Shy Love, producers from several major studios hear the Aptima HIV test explained by its developers” here.

* * *

Like what you see? Follow PVV on Facebook and Twitter and/or follow Dr. Chauntelle at @DrChauntelle!!

You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from PVVOnline/Porn Valley Vantage, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”

PVVOnline – Critical Commentary on Adult Production