Wednesday, December 8, 2010

HIV Porn Scare 2010 Redux: "Patient Zeta" Outs Himself...But Does His Story Pass The Gloryhole/Swiss Cheese Test??

And so, the story of the latest HIV porn scare continues on, with some quite interesting developments.

This morning, in the Los Angeles Times, we finally got to hear from "Patient Zeta", the performer at the center of the latest scare. His real name is Derrick Burts, though he has performed under various porn pseudonyms such as Derrick Chambers, Cameron Reed, and Cameron Reid.

As you are well aware if you've been keeping up, Burts was a performer from the gay side of the genre who somehow got infected with the HIV virus, then showed up doing a straight scene without testing first. Fortunately for everyone involved, all testing has turned out negative, and no one else was infected.

The story would end there....except that somehow and for whatever reason, Mr. Burts has decided to launch himself squarely into the ongoing debate over whether the government should step in and mandate condoms for all performers on set. And as you would guess, it's not on the side of performer's choice, either.

Here's a sample of the article from the LA TImes website (which also includes a brief video interview with Mr. Burts):

The adult film performer who tested HIV-positive at a San Fernando Valley clinic this fall spoke out for the first time Tuesday, calling for mandatory condom use in porn productions, improved testing for sexually transmitted disease and follow-up care for fellow performers.

Derrick Burts, 24, said he tested HIV-positive in October at the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation in Sherman Oaks after working in both gay and straight porn films for a few months. He had previously been identified only as Patient Zeta.

Producers of straight porn regularly check performers' test results using a database maintained by the clinic, known as AIM, to clear actors for work.

Burts, who performed in straight films as "Cameron Reid" and gay films as "Derek Chambers," said he was tested at the clinic Oct. 8, then received a panicked call from clinic staff the following afternoon, summoning him to the office.

When he got there, he said, clinic staff told him that he had tested HIV-positive. They wanted to perform a follow-up test and begin notifying performers he had worked with since his last negative test result Sept. 3. Those performers, he was told, would be placed on a quarantine list while they, too, were tested.

Burts said he gave clinic staff the names of about a dozen performers he had worked with in California and Florida in both gay and straight productions. The list included his girlfriend, who also works in the industry as a performer. He watched as clinic staff began scanning a performer database, notifying those he had named and placing them on a quarantine list.

The clinic has since said that none of the performers on its quarantine list tested positive. Burts confirmed that his girlfriend tested negative
.
So, you say...happy ending for all, except for poor Mr. Burts, right??? Not quite...because here's where the fun starts.

He said that when he returned to the clinic Oct. 23 to review the second test results, clinic staff told him that they had traced his HIV infection to someone he had performed a scene with whom they described to him as a "known positive."

Although straight porn performers must show negative HIV test results before filming, the gay porn industry does not have the same restrictions, although condom use is typically required.

Burts said he asked who the performer was and clinic staff told him they could not reveal the performer's name or gender due to patient confidentiality.

Clinic officials could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night. An attorney for the clinic was traveling outside the United States, according to an e-mail received from him earlier in the day.

Burts says he may have contracted the disease during a gay porn shoot in Florida. He said the performers used condoms during intercourse but not during oral sex.

Contrary to Burts' account of what he was told, clinic officials released a statement last month saying "Patient Zeta acquired the virus through private, personal activity."

"That's completely false," Burts said Tuesday. "There is no possible way. The only person I had sex with in my personal life was my girlfriend."
So, it seems that Burts was infected not through any hetero sex scene in porn, but through scenes in gay porn, where the standards are diameterically different than the "straight" industry. So, why is he so put off with AIM and calling for mandatory condoms in STRAIGHT PORN?!?!?

The next few paragraphs might tell the answer.


Before he left the clinic Oct. 23, Burts said clinic staff put him in touch with a doctor affiliated with the clinic and promised to arrange for his follow-up care.

Burts said no one followed up, and he felt neglected.

"AIM promised they would help me set up a doctor and get treatment," he said. "They did none of that."

Burts said AIM staff had warned him not to contact the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, whose officials have been among the clinic's chief critics. In frustration, Burts said he went to an AIDS Healthcare Foundation center in Los Angeles on Nov. 24 and saw a doctor, never identifying himself as Patient Zeta.

Pleased with the care he received at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Burts contacted the group's leaders last week, identified himself as Patient Zeta and said he wanted to speak out on their behalf and in favor of enforcing mandatory condom use in porn productions. Foundation officials have scheduled a news conference with Burts for 10 a.m. Wednesday.

"AIM likes to state that testing is enough. That's completely false," he said, noting that in the months before he tested positive for HIV, he had also contracted chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes.

"It's very dangerous," he said of adult film work. "It should be required that you wear a condom on the set."

Hmmmmm. So...out of pique at AIM for not funding his treatment for contracting HIV outside of their jurisdiction and for his own refusal to test himself before doing that hetero scene, he just conveniently joins up with Michael Weinstein's group...and thusly becomes their new spokesperson for mandating condoms. Coincidence??  Conspiracy??  Payola??  Or just plain circumstance??

Which brings us to this very interesting article from Dennis Romero that appeared in the LA Weekly blog The Informer, in which Romero seems to partially question and partially support Burts' claims about how he contracted the disease and how AIM dissed him in favor of AHF. Some snippage:



Interestingly, while the porn industry claims its self-policing when it comes to STDs, Burts says he contracted the virus from a male actor who had not presented his test before a film shoot - a move the industry has argued is customary and part of its health-guards.

In fact, the actor says his HIV-carrying scene partner was a "known positive." How could this happen? In gay porn, condoms are the norm, but HIV testing of the type advocated by the Adult Healthcare Industry Foundation, the organization that tested Burts and provides a testing service the whole adult video business, is apparently not.

His gay scene in Florida involved oral sex - a long shot for HIV transmission. But that's his story, and it doesn't add up if you ask us. He's a mostly straight guy who's loyal to his girlfriend but had protected gay sex and still somehow came up with HIV?


AIM Healthcare's claim that he got HIV through his own extracurricular, off-camera sex life is B.S., he says: He only has off-camera sex with his girlfriend. (He says she turned up negative, too).

Really?
 Of course, Romero seems to ignore the fundamental differences between straight and gay porn.  AIM tests EVERYONE in the straight scene (a negative test within 30 days is the normal requirement, but individual performers may require even stiffer requirements before performing scenes); whereas there is little or no testing in the gay scene, since they tend to rely on a mix of condom usage, seperating out HIV+ performers from HIV- performers, and explicit marking of bareback scenes as such.

But, there is a legit inconsistency here...oral sex is actually one of the less noted ways to pass on the HIV virus; unprotecteed anal sex being the more favored means of transmission sexually). Yet, Derrick/Cameron staunchly denies that he contracted HIV through "extracurricular sexual activity", saying that he is totally monogamous outside of his work with his girlfriend, who happens to BE a porn performer herself. So...how did he manage to get infected in the first place, then??  Osmosis??  Handjobs?? Or. perhaps,. he got infected through a gay sex scene where condoms were absent?? And this is AIM's fault....how???

Or, perhaps, it's just Burts' way of pimping his new sponsors. Continuing the Romero article:


AHF stated that Burts also contracted herpes and chlamydia during his "brief" work in porn.

Remember, gangstas...AIM does not even test for chlamydia [UD (5-22-12): actually, they did...thanks, Darklady, for the correction!!] or herpes in straight porn, so how in the hell would AHF know about that unless either Burts told them, or he contracted that from gay porn, too?


Burts says the industry-backed AIM turned its back on him, allegedly ignoring its promise to follow up with treatment. That, he claims, pushed him into the accepting arms of the AIM's archenemy, the AHF, which has been battling to force adult video to use condoms.
According to a statement from AHF:
Burts then anonymously sought medical treatment for his HIV through AHF, which arranged a medical appointment for him within 24 hours of his first contact with AHF at one of its Los Angeles-area AHF Healthcare Centers--without anyone at AHF knowing his role in the adult film industry.
AHF scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. Wednesday at its office in Hollywood to discuss Burts' case.

AHF President Michael Weinstein:
"We are extremely glad to know that Derrick has been linked to care and is receiving appropriate medical care for his HIV infection through AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a government-funded non-profit health care provider. However, we are astounded that the multi-billion dollar adult film industry and its fig leaf of a clinic could not even get it together six weeks after his first positive HIV test to link him to appropriate follow up medical care and treatment, and that taxpayers--rather than the adult film industry--will be left holding the bill."
Some pics from that newsconference, complete with the usual crocodile tears from Mr. Burts, are included in Romero's article.

Now, the question of why AIM should be held to pay up for the treatment of a person who acquired HIV from outside their jurisdiction and who attempted unwittingly to infect others by performing without being tested to begin with, might enter the mind of some skeptics. But, if you're Mike Weinstein and you need a suitable victim to shed tears at your pressers and Cal-OSHA hearings in order to bust AIM and get those government grants and $$$$ for Durex.....errrrrrr, to alert the public about the dangers of porn and the evil of the industry....well, any port in a storm, I guess. Especially since using Shelley Lubben is blowing up in their faces.

And then, there is the fact that Derrick Burts is saying one thing for the public and another thing for other venues. The irrepresible Lydia Lee (aka Julie Meadows) has been doing yeoman investigating work all along on the Great Condom Mandate Swindle, and today at her blog she takes time from playing Shelley Lubben Whack-a-Quack-Ministeress to do a brief but effective expose of Derrick/Cameron.

Her main evidence is a lenghty post that she says was done by "Cameron Reed" over at a message board hosted by some haters of Derrick Hay, the former agent for LA Direct Models and notorious for hiring crossover gay talent to the straight side. The ensuing conversation is, shall we say, illuminating. Snippage:


I’m proud to be HIV poz! [Cameron Reed speaks!!!]

I got as informed as I could about the disease – I attended the PLUS seminar hosted by the Stop Aids folks here in LA. I also “came out” about my HIV status to friends and my family. I’m fortunate to have a close relationship with my family and knew that as upset as they would be, they’d still love and accept me. For me, keeping my status a secret would have only added to the sense of shame I felt about it and would have cut me off form those close to me.

HIV/AIDS is an epidemic and in epidemics there will be casualties. It’s nobody’s fault that they seroconverted. Sure, I made a lousy decision to not insist on the guy fucking me to use a rubber, but I’m only human and humans make lousy decisions at times.

You say “there’s no way back”. Of course there isn’t. There’s no way back in anything in life. Dwelling on shoulda, woulda, coulda only spins me around in circles. I only have there here and now and I can either choose to make the most of what life has to offer or else wallow in self-pity. I find the fomer works much better than the latter.”

“[responding to an angry person] They are all in this biz and should know the risks. Let them eat HIV if they get it. I took the risks and got burned and will live with it but I feel no remorse on anyone I put in danger. THEY made the choice to become a hooker. I can’t stand people like you and your holier that thou attitude. I should fuck you up the ass while you sleep!”

“You are FUCKING IGNORANT! Yes, I will have to take pills the rest of my life, but I will live a normal lifespan thanks to meds. You are in this biz and you are this UNEDUCATED about HIV? No one wastes away and dies from AIDS anymore IF they are on meds and stay on them.

People don’t know who you are, you moron. You aren’t a household name. No one reads Playboy anymore you asshole.
So now, Derrick's putting up a front of being so proud of being infected, and even wishing an enemy to be infected, too??  Was that as much a performance as the tearful crying jag for AHF...or is it because of the audience??

And then, there is this video that was included from another therad in the Derrick Hay hatefest board, and reposted by Julie at her blog, where "Derick Chambers" (one of Derrick Burts' gay aliases) is interviewed on a porn set with fellow performer "James Jameson" (does Jenna know about this??) where "Derick" practically glows about how he has found himself as a gay porn star. Remember when seeing this that the real Derrick Burts said that he was monogamous outside of his work, and that he just couldn't get infected with HIV because condoms were the rule there. Ahhh...yeah. (Since the clip is kinda NSFW, only a link will be provided; or, you may go to Julie's blog to see it.)

[UD 5-22-12: That anti-Derrick Hay board happened to be XXXFilmJobs.com, which was one of Donny Long's sites. That would be the same Donny Long who was the force behind the original Porn Wikileaks.]

And leave it to Julie to cut through the bullshit and get down to the core of the issue.

I don’t have an opinion of Derrick Burts/Cameron Reid beyond my heartbreak at this entire situation. Why the gay industry doesn’t implement testing I will never understand, but clearly, testing does help. I would also like to point out that the gay community has a support system. The gay industry also has production pools for HIV-positive performers to work with each other. Straight men and women don’t have this kind of support when they test positive. Derrick can continue to work and for many years. The whole thing is just sickening and I’m appalled at AHF’s tactics to undermine the current testing system that should be testing the entire industry and not just one side. There are probably several workable solutions, including condoms, but this is how the discussion begins on that side. Insults, accusations and lies.

My favorite part about the “Derrick speaks for the first time” video on the LA Times website is the argument that AIM claimed he contracted HIV from his personal life, which has nothing to do with their detecting it and preventing him from spreading it, and the fact that the issues are conflated and that the language is vague. “They” don’t want you to wear condoms, after talking about AIM would assume that AIM doesn’t want talent to wear condoms, yet they offer free condoms on the counter at their clinic and have no say in actual production procedures beyond testing the actors, so “they” is the producers. And “barebacking” is a fetish on the gay side. He said that the gay side requires condoms, but that’s not true. Some do not enforce condoms. Everyone in the indsutry knows that a combination of testing and condoms are a great way to go. How that comes to fruition should be the next steps taken, but because AHF, UCLA, Los Anegeles County Department of Health, CalOSHA and their affiliates are more intent on bullying and spanking the industry’s [asses], we are left to stare at the same angry rehashing of a “condom mandate” though they keep saying it’s already mandatory. The problem is that the rules don’t suit the industry (condoms during felatio and goggles and gloves, all from a mandate set for clinics in the early 90s without regard to the specifics about adult work or any input from the people of the industry, which no other industry would ever tolerate), and there is an employee vs. independent contractor issue. Are these people talking about this? No. There is no “discussion.” The adult industry was purposely kept from a “discussion” at UCLA where the only person invited was someone who had never spoken at any of the previous “discussions”. Why? Because they don’t like what the industry has to say, but they have to care because you can’t regulate an industry full of adults without them protesting. You can overwork children on mainstream shoots, you can send them off to pageants and treat them however you like because they don’t have a say, but adults do, and it’s confounding that they would be surprised that adults in a legal industry would have a say in how they run their business. Compromise would be wonderful excapt that these sources are attacking. They don’t care to discuss, they don’t care for facts, they just need the next victim to serve as a mouthpiece for an industry they only intend to conquer and divide.

 My sympathy and my heart goes out to Derrick Burts for getting infected.  But, if he's going to allow himself to be used as a pawn for Michael Weinstein, Shelley Lubben, and those who would deny innocent performers of their rights, then he should be held accountable for his lies and distortions as much as anyone else.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, AIM does test for chlamydia, although it doesn't test for herpes (heck, it's hard to get a herpes test even if your partner has it since it's just that darn prevalent and largely harmless).

    I'm additionally confused by Burts' changing stories, since last night I read that he insisted he contracted it when a male performer ejaculated onto his back and it somehow ran down into his ass.

    That seems even less likely than the oral sex argument. Yes, I have a friend who contracted it that way, but he had poor gum health, which was -- and generally is -- the vector.

    -- Darklady
    Board Member, Free Speech Coalition

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