Springfield Republican: “Cities challenged to fight AIDS”

Today is World AIDS Day. The Springfield Republican reports on how this disease remains an acute issue in the Pioneer Valley:

As World AIDS Day is observed today, that reality has particular meaning in Springfield and Holyoke, which are both among the top four cities and towns in the state in the percentage of their citizens infected annually with the AIDS virus as well as in the percentage living with the illness…

In Massachusetts, as of Oct. 1, there were 17,057 people known to be living with HIV or AIDS in the commonwealth. Another 15,966 residents were known to have died from AIDS. State health officials estimate another 7,000 to 9,000 people in the state are infected with HIV and do not know it…

“The main thing for people to know is that HIV and AIDS are completely preventable. We know what we need to do to stop the epidemic, and the charge for all of us it to do it. That may be we have to have difficult conversations about sex and drugs in our communities and in our homes,” Godley said.

See also:

AP: “U.S. sets record in sexual disease cases” (November 2007)
Much of today’s mainstream porn advocates practices favorable to the spread of disease. Common messages include:

  • Have sex with lots of partners

  • Have unprotected sex

  • Have high-risk sex (e.g. “ass-to-mouth”; ejaculation in or around the eyes)
STD rates among porn performers themselves are extraordinarily high.

AP reports this week that rates for several sexually-transmitted diseases are rising in the US:

More than 1 million cases of chlamydia were reported in the United States last year — the most ever reported for a sexually transmitted disease, federal health officials said Tuesday…

In 2004, the nation’s gonorrhea rate fell to 112.4 cases per 100,000 people in 2004, the lowest level since the government started tracking cases in 1941.

But since then, health officials have seen two consecutive years of increases. The 2006 rate — about 121 per 100,000 — represents a 5.5 percent increase from 2005…

Syphilis, a potentially deadly disease that first shows up as genital sores, has become relatively rare in the United States. About 9,800 cases of the most contagious forms or syphilis were reported in 2006, up from about 8,700 in 2005. The rate rose from 2.9 cases per 100,000 people to 3.3, a 14 percent increase.
Sexual Ecology: Porn, Promiscuity, and AIDS (explicit language)
This acclaimed and controversial book by gay activist and journalist Gabriel Rotello examines why the AIDS epidemic hit the gay male community, and why it persists 20 years after its causes and prevention strategies were discovered. Rotello’s study is useful to the antipornography movement in several ways. First, it shows how malleable and culturally determined our sexual behaviors are, as opposed to porn defenders who represent certain sex acts as what all people “naturally” crave…

“…when it comes to issues like the impact of commercial sex businesses on the epidemic, most AIDS organizations still operate on the pre-1962 logic, arguing that it is up to society to prove that a venue is dangerous, not for entrepreneurs to prove it is safe. Based on the evidence, I have no doubt that if owners of commercial sex establishments had to file ‘epidemiological impact statements’ proving that they would not harm gay sexual ecology before they could get or renew their licenses, very few would be allowed to operate.” (p.199)

“Homosexual encounters in different venues”, International Journal of STD and AIDS, 1997
…the number of partners practising unprotected anogenital sex was highest in (semi) public venues.

Commercial sex venues: a closer look at their impact on the syphilis and HIV epidemics among men who have sex with men, Sexually Transmitted Infections, 8/2/06

…commercial sex venues are one of the focal points of syphilis and HIV transmission and acquisition.

“No Turning Back: HIV and Gay Male Sexuality”, The Body, Winter 2005/2006
A U.S. study of public sex environments (PSEs) — parks, beaches, public bathrooms, truck stops, etc. — and commercial sex environments (CSEs) — bars, bathhouses, sex clubs, etc. — found that half of the HIV-positive MSM [men who have sex with men] surveyed had visited a PSE (50%) or a CSE (41%) in the previous three months, with 24% going to both. Interestingly, MSM who visited PSEs did not engage in more unprotected sexual activities than did those who did not visit PSEs, while visitors to CSEs had significantly more unprotected sex than non-visitors.

Full Text of Springfield’s Decision to Revoke Capital Video’s Viewing Booth Entertainment License
Based on the evidence presented, this store caters to a group of people who are reckless about personal health and, by inference, the health of their sexual partners, and Capital Video’s blind eye to this activity encourages promiscuity on its premises. Such conduct has been recognized in other Massachusetts case law as a cause of HIV infection…

From size, location and height of the holes, the discarded paper tissues/towels, and stains depicted, the odors emanating from the booths over a period of several months and the attempts to cover the holes without success, it is apparent that customers used the holes with reckless disregard of conditions in plain view and smell of any human being. Further, from the evidence of drug sales and prostitution in the vicinity of the store, the cooperation between Amazing.net employees and a known prostitute, and the testimony of a neighborhood resident that this location is the “epicenter” of problems in the neighborhood, together with the likely health risks posed as to HIV infection, it is evident that revocation of the 2007 Entertainment License to operate the booths is the only remedy to bring about the ending of the open and notorious conditions which constitute lewd and lascivious behavior and nuisance.

Gazette: “Porn store’s viewing booths raise stink in Springfield”
During the hearing, Nota himself said one of the holes in the Springfield viewing booths had been made with a drill, something that we presume would make a lot of noise. More generally, Internet comments from patrons suggest that Capital Video’s stores in Springfield, Kittery, Maine and elsewhere can be popular places for people to meet up for sex, at least when the store management chooses to be lax. And being lax is profitable. As one patron puts it, “theres more money going in the machines with lights off and holes in the walls…”

Viewing Booths and HIV: An Open Letter to Thomas Lesser of Northampton, Attorney for Capital Video
Police reports suggest a number of Springfield Capital Video patrons are drunk. Scientists are finding that high-risk sex, intoxication and being HIV-positive correlate with each other…

Lesser Newman: Capital Video Has Seen the Light and Will Make its Springfield Viewing Booths Safe
On Squirt.org, Capital Video’s Apremont Triangle store gets the most comments of any location in Springfield. It is plausible that it is one of the leading centers for HIV transmission in the region…

The inclination of Capital Video clerks to ‘look the other way’ is legendary…

What Kittery Found at the Porn Shop
Police Chief Strong said he believed the collection of material they made, along with the lab results, showed beyond a reasonable doubt that there were body fluids being exchanged or deposited that other people were exposed to…< BR>
Raynham, MA: “Shock, outrage over sex acts in store”
[Video X-tra Adult Superstore]–the town’s only adult video store featuring closet-sized video “preview viewing” rooms–has become an indoor meeting spot for men seeking sex with other men, a Sunday Enterprise investigation has shown.

…with anonymous sexual activity comes increased health and safety risks, including the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, experts say.

“Court upholds N.J. law discouraging sex in video shops”, AIDS Policy Law, 3/21/97

Carolyn McKenzie: Disease, Intoxicants Prevalent Among Strip Dancers (explicit language)
I’ve had wives call me and say, “I’m reading the credit card bill, and there’s all these strange expenses on it, places I’ve never heard of.” Well, those places are the cover organizations for the clubs, or the massage parlors, or lingerie services that their husbands have been frequenting. The next question I get is, “Well do you think I need to get a physical check-up?” And I say, “Yes, you do.” I can’t tell you how many of them call me back and say they have turned up positive for an STD. I also want to tell you about these 39 women that we have helped to get out of the industry. Out of that number of 39 women, only 6% were married. 90% were single moms trying to support their kids… 75% of them had STD’s when we took them in for their medical check-ups. 16% had felony records that they were working with and 25% had misdemeanors. 95% of them were using drugs and alcohol, and three of them had addictions so severe that we had to put them in long term rehab programs.

Condom Use Below 20% in American Porn Movies
“In any sexual interaction where condoms are used, consumers tend to drift from that,” said Graham Travis, head of production at Elegant Angel Video, a production company that turns out as many as eight new releases a month. “What the consumers want to see is performers without condoms, something that’s as real and intimate as possible…”

Sharon Mitchell, a former adult-film actress who earned a Ph.D. in human sexuality before co-founding the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, said on Monday that condom use in the industry had gone up after the H.I.V. outbreak to 23 percent from 17 percent and that it was now back to about 17.5 percent.

Los Angeles Times: “In California’s Unregulated Porn Film Industry, an Alarming Number of Performers Are Infected With HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases. And Nobody Seems to Care.”
The Adult Industry Medical HealthCare Foundation (AIM), an industry- backed clinic in Sherman Oaks, administered voluntary tests to a group consisting primarily of adult film workers. Of 483 people tested between October 2001 and March 2002, about 40% had at least one disease. Nearly 17% tested positive for chlamydia, 13% for gonorrhea and 10% for hepatitis B and C, according to Sharon Mitchell, a former adult actress who founded AIM…

Types of Porn and Their Occupational Safety Risks (explicit)
The list of STDS on the AIM handout includes: “HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphillis, Hepatitis, A,B,C, Herpes, Genital Warts, Molluscum Contagiosum, Crabs, Trichomonis, Bacterial Vaginosis, Rectal Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, Gonorrhea of the throat.”

Now on Sale at Capital Video: Watch Women Eat Their Own Poop (explicit)
One of the newer crazes in porn is a genre called “ass-to-mouth”. In a typical scenario, a man has anal sex with a woman, then puts his penis into her mouth…

Martin Amis: “A rough trade”
“I have herpes,” said [porn actress] Chloe as she drove me to a smoker-friendly bar. “After you’ve been in this business for a while, you have herpes. Everyone has herpes…. My movies are all-condom, but condoms won’t protect you from herpes. They don’t cover the base. Sometimes when you’re doing girl-girl you’ll say, ‘Honey, I think you should go and see someone.’ It can be a very stinky scene down there….”

Porn: A Deadly Occupation

Carol Queen: Time for the Porn Film Industry to Stop Being a Poster Child of Heterosexual HIV Transmission
As good a job as porn has tried to do in preventing its No. 1 occupational hazard, it falls short for a reason that should be instructive to everyone. Its antipathy to condoms puts performers at risk, pure and simple…

Why do we still have to say this, 20 years later? It is as basic to HIV education as anything, yet denial and resistance (not to mention inadequate sex education) impede our understanding. Perhaps in the next 20 years the porn film industry will stop being a poster child of heterosexual transmission and become part of the solution.