Porn Industry Shuts Down After a Cluster of Syphilis-Case Reports

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Image Steve Marcus/Reuters

A Los Angeles-based pornography trade group has called for a nationwide filming moratorium on X-rated productions after five porn stars were revealed to have syphilis.

Currently, more than 1,000 L.A. based porn performers are being tested and administered preventative antibiotics and country public health officials are investigating a possible outbreak of the sexually transmitted disease.

The Free Speech Coalition said that the call came after it was revealed that one performer tested positive for syphilis, a potentially fatal sexually transmitted disease, and that the performer's sexual partners are being notified.

The temporary moratorium on adult film production was announced Saturday, a day after Los Angeles County's Public Health Department said that it was investigating a possible syphilis outbreak among performers in the porn industry after the agency had received reports of at least five syphilis cases involving adult film performers last week.

The trade association said that the voluntary, temporary shut-down of the multi-billion dollar industry will be lifted after "the risk to performers in the industry has been properly assessed and all performers have been tested," according to a statement.

Syphilis is passed on from person to person through direct contact with syphilis sores, which mainly occur on the external genitals, vagina, anus or inside the rectum. Sores can also occur on the lips and mouth and the disease can be transmitted through a variety of sex acts, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Syphilis is easy to cure in its early stages and a single shot of penicillin can cure a person who has had syphilis for less than a year and people who have had the STD for a longer period will need additional doses.

This is not the first time the porn industry has held a self-imposed moratorium following news of diseased performers.

In 2011, major players in the porn industry halted production for nearly a week after an adult film performer tested positive for HIV but the Free Speech Coalition said that the case was later determined to have been a false report.

Production was halted in late 2010 when porn actor Derrick Burts was diagnosed and confirmed to be HIV-positive.

An industry self-imposed moratorium also happened in 2004 when at least five performers tested positive for HIV.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an advocacy group, on Monday called for condoms to be used in all pornography.  The groups was that the latest suspected syphilis outbreak among porn performers shows that the industry is incapable of self-regulating and protecting its workers.

"This is the living proof that self-regulation by this industry is not going to work. This is also proof that testing is not a form of prevention," said AHF president Michael Weinstein, according to Adult Video News.

The AHF is supporting County Measure B, which, if passed in November, will require the use of condoms during pornography shoots.

The Free Speech Coalition rejects the measure, arguing that the industry is a close community that has been proactive in testing and protecting the health of performers. 

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