The Adult Film Industry: Time to Regulate?

Corita R. Grudzen; Peter R. Kerndt


PLoS Med. 2007;4(6):e126 

In This Article

Occupational Health and Safety

In California, every employer is required to ensure that employees have a safe working environment. In 1973, the California Occupational Safety and Health Act was enacted to assure "safe and healthful working conditions for all California working men and women by authorizing the enforcement of effective standards, assisting and encouraging employers to maintain safe and healthful working conditions, and by providing for research, information, education, training, and enforcement in the field of occupational safety and health".[19] Each employer must establish, implement, and maintain a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program according to Title 8 of the State Code of Regulations.[20] This includes components for training programs and disciplinary actions. Employers must protect employees from blood-borne pathogens and not discriminate against employees that complain about safety and health conditions. Companies are required to prevent workers from coming into contact with blood or other potentially infectious material, including semen and vaginal fluid, and to provide post-exposure prophylaxis. Universal precautions, which assume all material is potentially infectious, are part of the blood-borne pathogens standard.

In the health care setting, it is hard to imagine a clinic or hospital not providing and requiring its employees to wear gloves or other personal protective equipment. If a health care worker has a needle stick or other potentially infectious fluid exposure on the job, systems are in place to rapidly and effectively treat the employee to prevent transmission of HIV and other infectious diseases. Although a legal industry, adult film has allowed consistent exposure of its employees to HIV, hepatitis, human papillomavirus, herpes simplex virus, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and other diseases without liability or worker recourse.

Cal/OSHA has recently made recommendations specific to adult film to protect performers from acquiring sexually transmitted infections.[21] This includes the use of personal protective equipment (condoms and dental dams) as barriers, simulation of sex acts post-production, and ejaculation outside the partner's body. In addition, post-exposure prophylaxis after possible exposure to pathogens such as hepatitis B and HIV would be required. This would greatly reduce transmission of HIV and other STDs and would likely prevent transmission in cases where a screening test does not detect an infected performer. Cal/OSHA also requires a procedure for exposure incidents when an employee has contact with potentially infectious material. The employer must provide a medical evaluation and follow-up at no cost to the employee. The final component is a requirement that each employee receive training about blood-borne pathogens, including how they can protect themselves against infection and what to do if they are exposed.


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