A San Francisco adult film company has been thrust into the center of the continuing debate over the use of condoms in the industry and is the subject of a state investigation after one of its actresses tested positive for HIV.
Last week, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed a complaint with the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, calling for Kink.com to "take immediate measures for the protection of employees, including the use of condoms during the production of adult films."
A performer in a July 31 production for the company's network of fetish websites tested positive for HIV on Aug. 21 after a routine, industry-required screening for sexually transmitted disease. The July shoot was the last before the actress, who goes by the screen name Cameron Bay, tested positive. She had tested negative for the disease just four days earlier, said Mark Schechter, president of Adult Talent Managers LA, Bay's management company.
Cal/OSHA has begun an investigation into Kink's fetish websites, industry groups confirmed.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has strongly lobbied for condom use in adult films, wrote in its complaint that Kink's July 31 shoot involved acts "considered high-risk for the transmission of HIV."
"They were engaging in high-risk activity and there were no condoms present," said Ged Kenslea, a spokesman for the foundation. He said the organization inferred there were no condoms used in the production by viewing footage from the production, which is commercially available.
Kink did not respond to a request for comment.
Many straight performances don't use protection during shoots. Performers generally are required to receive HIV testing once a month.
California's adult film production came to a grinding halt after Bay's positive test, but resumed last week after a panel of three doctors reported it was safe to start filming. So far, none of Bay's on-screen partners has tested positive for HIV, said her manager. It is unclear whether Bay contracted the disease on set or elsewhere.
"These occurrences of STDs in an industry such as this are going to happen. Stringent guidelines are supposed to catch them," said Schechter. "Here, the system worked."
Some, though, have pushed heavily to change that system.
Last year, Los Angeles County passed a law requiring condoms to be used in adult films shot in the county, which is the hub of the state's adult film industry. Members of the industry sued to block the measure, but in August a U.S. District judge found that the mandate did not infringe on filmmakers' First Amendment rights.
Democratic Assemblyman Isadore Hall of Compton has introduced legislation that would extend the condom requirements statewide. The bill is currently in committee.
"The industry's testing-only policy has failed," Hall said in a statement. "The fact is a voluntary testing-only policy is as effective at preventing the spread of STDs as a pregnancy test is at preventing pregnancy."
There have been other incidents in the industry. In 2004, three female performers contracted HIV after having unprotected sex on screen with an HIV-positive male performer who had tested negative less than a month before.
The Free Speech Coalition, an adult industry trade association, said it may consider requiring tests more frequently, every 14 days rather than every 28.
Bay, meanwhile, has begun a drug regimen after testing positive, said Schechter.
"She's doing very well all things considered," he said.
Kristen V. Brown is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org