The adult industry has a standard panel of STI tests. Recently, both hepatitis B and C were added to the standard panel required to work and testing frequency was changed from every 30 days to every 14 days. The Free Speech Coalition (FSC), an adult industry trade group with no medical training, sets and regulates the standard panel, as well as all the protocols for health and safety.
According to the FSC website, performers test for HIV (by "PCR RNA Aptima"), syphilis (an "RPR" and Trep-Sure test), hepatitis B and C (the site does not list which tests are used), chlamydia (by "ultra-sensitive DNA amplification"), gonorrhea (by "ultra-sensitive DNA amplification") and trichomoniasis. FSC doesn’t test for hepatitis A, even though it is transmitted through sexual contact and the ingestion of fecal matter (even in microscopic amounts).
FSC has a subdivision called PASS (Performer Availability Screening Services). According to its website, PASS provides adult industry producers and performers with a reliable protocol and database for STI testing, but performers cannot access the database to see each other’s test results.
Agents and producers know performers have an STI before the performers themselves. Their co-stars are not informed at all. FSC claims that it’s a violation of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for performers to see the medical information of other performers. If we can release our information to agents and producers, then why aren’t we given the option to share with our co-stars?
In the past, performers could access the database to make an informed decision on working with other performers based on their medical history, but that safety precaution has been taken away by FSC, not by HIPAA. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website, the HIPAA Privacy Rule provides protection for the medical information of individuals. At the same time, the rule permits the disclosure for patient care and other important purposes.
In addition to disclosure, I believe adult performers should be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B (there is no vaccine against hepatitis C) prior to employment to make the adult industry safer. Other industries that deal with bloodborne pathogens do so, but FSC would like us to believe that vaccines violate a performer’s rights. I do not believe that disease transmission is "free speech" or someone’s right.
Vaccinations are the only sure way to prevent transmissions. FSC would have us believe that since they now test every 14 days, performers are safe from transmitting viral hepatitis. However, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the incubation period is on average from 28 to 120 days for hepatitis A (15 to 50 days with an average of 28), B (45 to 160 days with an average of 120) and C (14 to 180 days with an average of 45).
The adult industry is branching out of California to film in other states, including Nevada and Florida, because of laws requiring condom use on set. FSC is leading the fight against mandatory condoms in the adult industry. I am hoping that Nevada in particular will set a precedent by mandating hepatitis A and B vaccinations for adult performers.
Kora Peters is an adult film actress and a health activist. To follow her on Twitter, click here.