European Porn Industry Goes Into Shut Down Over HIV Spread

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PA/UNILAD

The porn industry in Europe is currently paralysed, as all x-rated film production enters its second week of shutdown over the spread of HIV among numerous actors.

On February 14, it was learned a high profile adult actor based in Spain tested positive for HIV. As agents scrambled to tell actors who had worked with the affected, a halt on all porn production across Europe was called.

Since, in a shocking breach of privacy, the affected actor has been publicly identified and their status ‘outed’, as well as a list of nine cases of colleagues exposed to the virus.

A coalition of European porn bosses spearheaded by a select group of agents who do not speak for the entire industry have released a statement.

In it, they claim the actor who initially tested positive – dubbed ‘patient zero’ – as well as the nine others affected were ‘quarantined’ and prevented from performing to protect the health and safety of the other thousands of European professionals.

They note this shutdown, which commenced five days ago, is ‘the first adult industry HIV shutdown in Europe’.

The shutdown has been supported by a number of actors:

Of course, if European bosses abide by the shutdown – and it is a big ‘if’ – they will be doing the right and just thing by the talent to stop HIV spreading any further.

However, a voice recording has been published in which a high profile French producer allegedly admits they won’t be following the reactionary shutdown evoked by European porn bosses, and will continue making adult films.

It was shared on Twitter by performer Mia Wallace:

This, despite the FSC in America recommending an immediate hold on all production in Europe for ‘up to two months, until the scope of contacts, is known and the performer population can be retested’.

While the production hold in Europe remains across certain companies at the time of writing, in principle, a number of industry insiders worry it is not enough to safeguard performers in the future and, with a lack of coherent coalition in Europe, productions and agents are free to work again before the recommended shutdown period is lifted.

It’s a repeating pattern.

One insider tells UNILAD a syphilis outbreak in the European porn industry has raised four known cases in just over 12 months, claiming some ‘porn producers and agents are trying to cover it up’.

The source alleges some actors have been ‘pressured into working’ during times of an outbreak and ‘threatened with kill fees’ – or fines – for not showing up to work even if they fear a job will expose them to sexually-transmitted disease.

This behavior has since been strongly called out by prominent figures in European porn, and we’re told those perpetrating it have been blacklisted.

With regards to the recent HIV outbreak, another source said:

We also found out that whilst productions and agents have been talking about the case, many performers were not informed of what’s been happening.

Echoing a popular assumption, the source also claim the puppet masters of porn are happy to conduct this negligent business because they would rather cover up issues of infection than ‘create panic’ or ‘reinforce stereotypes about the industry’.

UNILAD was told:

There is a split between the industry, those that want to keep things private and sort it out outside of the public eye, and those that believe we should be open about it and inform all who may be considering work in Europe.

Other attempts made by one source to reach out to porn site owners at the time of syphilis outbreaks had been met with either ‘bullshit’ or silence.

Now, it seems when it comes to HIV, the industry in Europe has learned to lead with the health and safety of its talent as a top priority, at least superficially.

The coalition found none of the nine suffering ‘first generation exposures’ to HIV had worked with any other performers since contact with ‘patient zero’, which another source dubbed ‘suspicious’.

Indeed, today it was suggested to UNILAD that one of the nine ‘first generation exposure’ victims in fact has worked with five other performers within a time period during which they should have been under quarantine, but was ‘too scared’ to admit it to an agent.

The source continued:

Anyone that’s trying to downplay [the health risk] are being, at best, naive and, at worst, willfully negligent.

So, how did porn – an industry compelled to provide people with enjoyment and sexual liberation – instead oversee the dissemination of a potentially fatal disease upon some of its high profile European professionals?

And what can be done to turn the tide and make porn safe for European performers?

Well, Harriet Sugarcookie is campaigning for the shutdown to be extended from an initial two weeks to a full month, and adds not enough is being done to stop the initial spread of sexually transmitted diseases in porn workplaces across the continent.

The London-born independent porn producer based in Budapest, is now hoping this sad wake up call is enough to encourage European bosses to align with the regulations laid out in America by the FSC.

Having worked both sides of the pond, she explained the sexual health screening procedure in America is far more accurate and extensive than those commonly offered in Europe.

Harriet explained the most common form of testing for HIV in Europe is the ELISA test which has a window of detection between 13 and 45 days. In America the PCR test, which has a window of 7 to 21 days, is utilised.

Harriet believes:

The two tests are different and the best case is everyone takes the PCR first and then also the ELISA to be as sure as possible.

We all agree there needs to be a better process for this situation in the European industry, and following America’s guidelines makes the most sense as they have more modern practices.

While it is not available in many European countries, Sugarcookie’s company is part of an emergency group endeavoring to make PCR testing available in local clinics.

The FSE also require American performers to pass a mandated 14-day testing standard, which Harriet hopes the European industry will implement.

Meanwhile, it looks as though no resolution will be agreed among European porn bosses, while their performers are left struggling to find guaranteed safe work amid industry politics.

Harriet concluded:

An industry wide shutdown seems impossible right now, as too many productions across many countries disagree with what is a safe amount of time before clearing performers for work.

The situation has simply highlighted the lack of communication channels needed to support everyone, from performers to producers, and to get the necessary information including sex education out.

It’s clear the porn industry – whether you agree with its ethics and aesthetics or not – must enforce stronger measures to safeguard the health of those they employ in practicing safe, consensual and liberated sex.

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