Condoms In Porn: Common Sense Or Overreach?

Mar 08, 2012 | Updated Mar 08, 2012

In August of 2011, the adult film industry in Southern California voluntarily shut down production when a performer tested positive for HIV.

Less than a week later, more tests showed that the performer did not contract the often fatal disease, but the HIV scare gave momentum to a long-simmering movement to require all porn films in Southern California to use condoms.

At the beginning of this year, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed into law a mandate that all adult film productions shot within city limits be required to use condoms. The law went into effect on Monday, although there are still questions about how enforceable it is.

The movement to require condom use in adult films has also gone county-wide, as the AIDS Healthcare Foundation collects petition signatures for a ballot measure that would expand the law across Los Angeles County. A recent update from February shows that the foundation is more than halfway there to collecting enough signatures to put the measure on the November 2012 ballots.

The condom use reforms definitely have their critics. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich filed a lawsuit against the city-wide effort, saying it was unnecessary and a waste of time and money.

Citing already extensive industry-wide testing standards, porn companies deem the condom requirements unnecessary and have threatened to pack up and take their industry to less restrictive counties.

Some porn performers are also speaking out against the mandate, saying that the new requirements will drive porn underground, creating even more unsafe conditions. Other performers say that condom use for the extended period of time needed to shoot a film causes chafing and open sores, which will lead to an even higher risk of disease transmission.

An adult industry trade magazine estimated that, nationwide, the porn industry brought in $6 billion in revenues in 2007. Since San Fernando Valley is at the epicenter of the porn industry, it stands to reason that if porn companies leave Southern California in protest, they'll be taking their profits with them. On the other hand, the safety and health of the county's residents don't have a numerical value -- especially when it comes to incurable diseases like HIV. Is Los Angeles biting off more than it can chew when it comes to regulating the porn industry's condom use?