Syphilis scare forces LA porn industry shutdown

Posted Aug 21, 2012 by JohnThomas Didymus
Major studios in the LA porn industry have halted production of porn movies after a male performer who tested positive for syphilis allegedly concealed the diagnosis raising fears that he may have spread the disease to other actors and actresses.
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Gawker reports that the porn news site XBIZ, reported last week that a male performer who was diagnosed last month with syphilis concealed the information by doctoring paperwork. He continued to participate in movie productions and thus exposed others to the infection.
The Daily Beast, however, reports that Diane Duke, executive director of Free Speech Coalition, the group that represents the adult entertainment industry, in an interview, denied reports that the infected performer doctored test results, saying: "There have been a lot of rumors. I would say the performer did not cheat the system. I would say other factors were at play.” But Duke, according to the Daily Beast, did not elaborate on her comment, saying, "More information on that is probably going to be revealed in the future." But she said, “The performer who was positive for syphilis has come forward and is working with us to initiate the partner identification, evaluation, and treatment."
According to CNBC, the Free Speech Coalition (FSC) called for producers to halt filming until all performers in the industry have been screened for the disease. The Daily Beast and the Los Angeles Times both report that the moratorium was announced on Saturday after the Los Angeles County's Public Health Department said it was investigating a cluster of possible syphilis cases within the porn industry. The agency said it has received reports of at least five cases involving adult performers within a week.
According to The Global Post, the FSC says the "entire population" of more than 1,000 performers will be tested and treated with antibiotics. FSC said, "Once the performer receives antibiotics, he or she will be available to work within 10 days."
The industry is taking the threat of syphilis seriously because although it is a curable illness, it could be fatal if left untreated. Fears that the actor who tested positive for the disease may have spread it to several other actors and actresses also explains the emergency measures being adopted by the industry.
Diane Duke said: "I always appreciate how our industry comes together in a time of need. Clearly our industry's priority is the health and well-being of our performers."
ABC News reports that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says signs and symptoms of syphilis may take years to emerge, and include painless sores on the genitals, skin rashes and swollen lymph nodes. If left untreated, the illness may progress to numbness, paralysis, blindness, dementia and death.
According to the Daily Beast, anger followed the revelation that a member of the community may have exposed others to syphilis infection. An actor Kristian Rose, Tweeted: “I think the next person to lie about their test should be tortured & killed. If u agree please RT.” About 40 of her followers Re-Tweeted the message.
CNBC reports the last time the porn industry shut down was in 2011 after a case of HIV was confirmed. The HIV scare brought film production to a halt and caused calls for compulsory condom use in the industry. Follow-up tests, however, revealed that the HIV test was a false positive.
Media reports say syphilis cases are on the rise in California. Los Angeles Times reports that according to the state Department of Public Health, between 2010 and 2011, the number of cases jumped by 18 percent.
CNBC reports that although the industry is under significant financial pressure due to the activities of interlopers in the industry, operators say the shutdown is not likely to affect revenues of major studios. The major porn producers usually have large stockpiles of films in line for release and can, therefore, survive a temporary shutdown of operations.
The LA porn industry as a whole is believed to generate as much as $14 billion in revenue annually, but recently, revenues have been shrinking due to the activity of pirates and free porn content on Internet. Scot Taylor, president and founder of New Sensations, a major porn outfit, said: "The nature of the industry is we don’t make nearly as many products as we did once."