We’ve noticed that there is a lot of confusion, both in the media and within the industry about how the decision to call a moratorium is made, how the dates are determined and what protocols are in place to protect adult performers.
HIV is a serious issue, and its important that we deal in facts, not fear or rumor, so we’ve prepared an FAQ to help people understand the process.
Are Adult Performers Tested for HIV?
Yes. Any performer who wants to work in the adult industry must test clear of STIs, including HIV, within fourteen days of their shoot date. Performers who work regularly generally test every two weeks at PASS-certified testing clinics.
What is the PASS system?
The PASS system is a descendant of AIM (Adult Industry Medical), a healthcare foundation created by a performer with the support of FSC to help protect against STIs. Under the PASS system, producers and directors check to confirm that the performer is cleared to perform in the PASS database within the past fourteen days. If a performer does not have a recent test, or shows any irregularity, he or she will not be cleared to perform.
What happens if a performer tests positive for HIV?
If an active performer tests positive for HIV, a moratorium is immediately called and the industry immediately halts all production.
How are moratoriums called?
The doctor at the PASS facility that conducted the test checks to see if that performer has worked on adult film since 2 weeks prior to his or her last negative test. If he or she has, the doctor alerts the Free Speech Coalition, and the Free Speech Coalition calls an industry-wide moratorium. Production is halted while everyone can be retested to make sure no performers are exposed to the virus.
What happens during a moratorium?
During a moratorium, film production stops while doctors work to determine if any one else was exposed, and to establish a genealogy of the virus.
All performers who have worked with or had sexual contact with the positive performer prior to performer’s last negative HIV test are tested and retested. In some cases, third generation partners may be tested as well. The goal is to immediately figure out if anyone else was exposed to the virus and to stop any potential on-set transmissions.
The HIV Positive performer is interviewed to determine the timeline and 1st generation partners. If the performer had sexual contact with other performers off-set, the PASS doctors and FSC will work to make sure those people are informed and tested as well as any other individuals with which the performer had sexual contact.
How is the decision made to lift the moratorium?
A moratorium is only lifted after it is clear there is no threat of transmission.
Only after a genealogy of the virus is established, and all sexual partners have been tested, do the FSC and PASS discuss whether it is safe for performers to resume shooting.
If the FSC and PASS determine that it is safe to lift the moratorium, they set a date on which production can resume. All performers must then retest in order to be cleared for work. The retests must happen no less than 14 days after the date the positive performer received his/her positive results or the date of the positive performer’s last sexual encounter with a performer.
The HIV RNA Aptima test used by PASS has a 7-10 day window, meaning that it can identify HIV within 7-10 days of transmission. However, we wait at least 14 days after any possible exposure before lifting the moratorium for added accuracy, and to make sure that nothing was missed.
Why not wait longer?
In some cases, we do. If there are any irregularities, or if we suspect that there may be any extant threat to the performer pool, we hold the moratorium. We only lift the moratorium if there is no medical reason for it to be extended. We try to balance performer safety with the performer’s desire to work. While most studios stockpile films and can weather a longer moratorium, individual performers often have to contend with a direct loss of income once shooting stops.
How accurate are the tests?
The HIV RNA Aptima test is the most accurate test available. Because of its specificity and sensitivity a false positive (where a performer tests positive for HIV, but does not actually have it) will occur from time to time. We have never encountered a false negative and understand the incidents of false negatives to be exceedingly rare.
What else do you test for before HIV?
PASS has an extremely rigorous testing protocol designed to reduce the risk of STIs
Performers test every 14 days for:
• HIV (by “PCR RNA Aptima”)
• Syphilis (an “RPR” and Trep-Sure test)
• Hepatitis B & C.
• Chlamydia (by “ultra-sensitive DNA amplification”)
• Gonorrhea (by “ultra-sensitive DNA amplification”)
Why not just use condoms?
Unfortunately, condoms aren’t perfect. They break. In the shoots that can take several hours, they can cause abrasions known as “condom rash,” which, paradoxically, can make it easier to transmit an infection if one does break. For this and a host of other reasons, performers generally prefer to rely on the testing system over condoms. You can read more about that here.