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Clinic for Porn Actors Closes, AIDS Group Rejoices

After years of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation trashing them in the media, the Adult Industry Medical Foundation (aka AIM) has closed its doors for good, leaving a gap in health care for the more than one thousand adult film actors it previously served. The stated reason for the closure was “financial hardship,” but the true story behind why AIM closed down is far dirtier.

Founded in 1998, AIM was established by and for actors in California’s porn industry and tests all licensed performers on a monthly basis for sexually transmitted diseases. They were known for speedy results and a database that could be accessed by others in the industry to verify the health status of actors.

For years the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has attacked the AIM clinic, claiming that it was not sufficiently treating actors and provided a false sense of security. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation was primarily pushing for mandatory condom usage on porn sets. As I wrote last year in the LA Times, it is perplexing that AHF, which supposedly cares about the health and wellness of porn actors, has relentlessly attacked the AIM clinic over many years. Not only has AHF criticized the clinic for its lack of patient confidentiality, but it has also demanded that AIM release patient information to public health officials (which it refused to do citing a patient’s right to medical privacy).

After opening in 1998, the rates of HIV infection among adult entertainers did appear to decline. According to AIM, there was not one positive HIV from 1999 until 2004 when an actor Darren James tested positive. AIM was instrumental in finding and testing all of James’s sexual partners in the industry -- three of whom also tested positive for HIV. Even though AIM’s tests require a shorter period between infection and detection than conventional HIV tests, it seems that James had contracted the virus in the days prior to his blood test at AIM in March, too soon for the test to detect HIV infection.

After James, it would be another five years before another reported outbreak of HIV in the industry. AHF utilized each one of the “outbreaks” to publicly criticize AIM and call for mandatory condom use in adult films. They got what they wanted, at least in part. Courts in LA County did eventually determine that protection must be provided for any worker exposed to blood borne pathogens, but enforcement was left up to Cal/Osha; not exactly effective. Now AIM, which AHF fiercely hated, is gone -- leaving actors without their familiar place of testing and stripping the community of a valuable database of information. As sexologist and blogger Violet Blue noted:

AIM has not issued a press release nor made any comment or hint on their website that they have closed. Disturbingly, their site AimCheck.net, has been taken offline. This means anyone who had good tests can no longer access the test results or have them accessed -- the online proof and verification of having clean tests is gone. AIM’s Get Tested link is also broken.

While AIM may not have been perfect it provided an extremely valuable service; it’s testing and information gathering allowed producers to protect their people by taking reasonable measures to limit the likelihood that they’d hire an HIV-positive actor. Now that AIM is closed, AHF has made public statements about its worry that actors lack medical treatment. Due to AHF’s meddling in the porn industry the community has lost a valuable resource and if anyone thinks that a condom mandate combine with AIM’s closure will result in a reduction of HIV outbreaks, they are in for a big surprise.