it's not an outbreak, dammit!

There’s been lots more buzz lately about the porn HIV case. Fortunately, there are some places where a more reasonable and informed conversation is taking place. Rather than reiterate it all, here’s a few pointers.

Ernest Greene’s blog, with lots of great comments & discussion: here, here & here. That third link has pointers to some blogs by people who are actually performers in the mainstream het porn world, which gives them much more credibility in my eyes that, say, MSNBC on the topic.

Tony Comstock’s blog, with some very thoughtful input: here & here.

I also recommend pornochromatic, with two very insightful posts here & here. The second one proposes some ways to make the industry safer that seems to take both Ernest & Tony’s valuable ideas and find the middle ground.

Having pointed you to some good places to read about this, I want to add that one case in 5 years is not, in fact, an outbreak. The media has been referring to this unfortunate situation as an outbreak for days and that’s simply not accurate or fair. An outbreak is “an occurrence of disease greater than would otherwise be expected in a particular time and place.” Given how many people there are in porn and how many sexual partners they have, both within and outside the industry, I think it’s fair to say that one HIV case in 5 years is probably significantly less than would be expected among, say, a comparable group of people who don’t get tested monthly.

Maybe I’m extra-sensitive about this since my partner is a public health nurse and I get annoyed when the panic of “outbreaks” that aren’t actually outbreaks make her job nuts. But I do believe that using terms like “outbreak” to describe one case that hasn’t (as far as we know so far) spread is irresponsible because it creates fear & panic. And that’s exactly what we don’t need.

What we need is a solution that is relevant for the health and well-being of the folks who make porn. Legislation based on panic is never effective, reasonable or fair. So please, remember that it’s not an outbreak. It’s a case. And maybe that can help us work out how to move forward.

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One Response so far.

  1. Charlie, I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “middle ground”. I do not foresee any regulation, either imposed by law, or self-imposed that is going to meaningfully change things. Everything I have written has been offered so that my readers can reflect on their values and the choices they make as individuals.

    To that end I’ve offered one small suggestion for “the industry”, one that I can’t imagine would be controversial in any way. Quoting from my post from earlier today:

    [I] have a small suggestion.

    I’d like to see an independent, peer-reviewed epidemiological analysis of AIM STD figures with a side-by-side comparisons to the relevant cohorts in the general population. AIMs ongoing assertion is that STD rates in their performer pool are lower than in the sexually active population at large, but I don’t think the numbers I’ve seen presented by AIM bear this out.

    But the fact is no-one at AIM has the expertise to make a definitive analysis, and I certainly don’t; and it’s not a stretch of the imagination to suggest that perhaps I have an agenda, and perhaps AIM does too. We may have our (bias-informed) opinions about whether it’s riskier to be a 21 year old college student or a 21 year old adult performer, but an independent analysis of the HIV and other STD infection rates from AIM’s 10+ years of testing, with a comparison to sexually active, non-high risk group young adults would put the facts on the table, giving performers the information they need to make informed choices about their health and welfare, and viewers the information they need to understand the human costs involved in manufacturing pornography.

    Such an analysis would end speculation and guess-work as to how STD infection rates related to the manufacture of pornography compared to infect rates among various sexually active “civilian” populations, and I’m sure the end of such speculation would be welcomed by all concerned.

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