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News: World

Thu 9 Dec, 2010
By Sam Bristowe

People who are behind the industry, the big shots, they need to come up with a system that works, that protects their performers

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Gay porn actor hangs out the industry's dirty laundry after contracting HIV

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An actor whose HIV positive test sparked a shutdown of US porn filmmaking in October lashed out Wednesday at the multi-billion dollar business and an industry clinic for failing to help him.

At an emotional press conference, Derrick Burts, 24, also called for the use of condoms to be mandatory and enforced, saying that regular monthly tests are not enough to keep porn actors safe.

He notably slammed the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM), a clinic for performers in the porn industry based in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, which he says left him untreated for a month and a half.

"People who are behind the industry, the big shots, they need to come up with a system that works, that protects their performers," said Burts, speaking for the first time since the scare erupted.

Repeatedly breaking down in tears, he added: "This is a multi billion dollar industry, and they can't reach out when somebody tests positive .. there needs to be more done."

At least four major film producers suspended filming in October while tests were carried out on all the known partners of the actor. Production resumed a few weeks later.

Burts said he had only worked in the porn industry for seven months before being told during a routine test at the AIM clinic on October 8 that he had contracted the HIV virus, which leads to AIDS.

Previously he had worked as a magician on cruise ships travelling around the world, and as a manager for Marriott hotels, he said.

Singling out the San Fernando Valley clinic for criticism, he said: "AIM likes to state that testing is enough to protect the performers from getting STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and HIV.

"That's completely false. Testing doesn't do anything except inform you of what you have, or don't have. The real protection comes from protecting yourself with a condom," he added.

Speaking earlier to the Los Angeles Times newspaper: "The fact that there's a lack of condom use in porn, which is a very high risk job, is very dangerous."

"One reason I definitely wanted to speak out was to help other (porn) performers realise the risk that's out there," he added.

He was speaking at the headquarters of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which he said he turned to when AIM failed help him find treatment a month and a half after his postive test.

Its chief Michael Weinstein said his government-funded foundation was not against pornography.

"However, we are astounded that the multi-billion dollar film industry and its fig leaf of a clinic could not even get it together six weeks after his first HIV positive test to link him to appropriate follow-up medical care."

The HIV case was the first in over a year in the industry, and comes six years after up to 14 actors tested HIV positive forcing several film firms to close.

There was no immediate reaction to Burts' comments from the AIM clinic, or major porn filmmaking companies contacted by AFP.

Source: AFP


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