Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Porn Panic 2011: The Climax: FSC/APHSS Clears The Air On "Patient Alpha" Testing Process And Debunks Nasty Rumormongering

"Once a rumor spreads...the truth becomes the thing of the past."
-- Olivia Newton-John ("The Rumor", ["The Rumor",1988]) 


The thing about moral sex panics is that sometimes, when fear mixes with uncertaincy, it becomes possible for information not verified by real facts to be put out. This misinformation, whether accidental or deliberate, can really mess with the minds of the people affected the most in the panic, and even when legitimate attempts to seek the truth are taken, the rumor can take a life of its own and multiply itself for days. If not mitigated quickly, the damage of one exploding rumor/lie can do tremendous damage even long after it can be debunked by actual facts.

Fortunately, even the nastiest rumor can be quashed if the facts are made available as soon as possible, and clear-headed, sensible minds can be called on to relieve the frayed nerves of those seeking to separate facts from fiction. The best way to quash a rumor has always been to directly confront it from the beginning and not allow it to build up momentum to begin with. The absolute WORST way, on the other hand, is to simply be quiet and wish that a rumor would go away on its own.

Thankfully, in the case of the latest HIV porn scare, the people over at the Free Speech Coalition's Adult Production Health and Safety Services (APHSS) understand how to break rumors, and today they did the adult entertainment industry a much valued service in the face of one of the nastiest rumors recently raised against them.

The background, of course, is the most recent scare that a performer in Florida had been alleged to have tested "positive" two weeks ago for HIV (the virus most responsible for AIDS). News of that particular spread, and the subsequent fear that he had potentially compromised 13 other performers while mitigating and verifying that initial test, sent shock waves through the industry, especially considering it was the third consecutive year in which a performer had been tested "positive" for HIV...although, in the two previous cases in 2009 and 2010, it was found that no other performer was infected and that the original infections took place outside of porn production.

The latest "outbreak" had prompted and reenforced calls by some of the usual suspects (AHF spokesperson Mike Weinstein, ex-porn starlet turned fundie Christian activist Shelley Lubben, and some officials at the California branch of the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (Cal/OSHA) for mandatory condom usage in all porn shoots. The belief was that the consecutive outbreaks had proven one and for all that system of using testing to contain and screen out HIV+ people from performing in porn had utterly failed and that only mandated condom usage would better "protect" the performers.

And it probably would have worked, too...except that last week, the FSC, using its newly built APHSS system (which was designed to replace the system that had been adjucated by the former group Adult In Medical Foundation (AIM), which was effectively driven out of business last year due to a series of nuisance lawsuits bankrolled by AHF), managed to retest "Patient Alpha" using their own protocols...which resulted in a NEGATIVE test result for HIV this time around. (As you will see later on, the original tests were not from facilities under the APHSS umbrella, but from independent facilities not having the type of tests or the protocols that AIM or APHSS uses.) The announcement of the negative test can be found here.

Based on that info, APHSS announced back then that a week-long moratorium that had been imposed on porn production when the initial "reactive" test was revealed could now be lifted, and that further tests to reinforce and verify the most recent negative tests would be done on "Patient Alpha" and all of his first- and second-generation partners.

That by itself should have ended the panic right there.

Problem was, though, forces that were either quite skeptical or outright opposed to FSC's efforts, as well as the natural tendency of rumor mongering to take place, were not willing to bury this case...and they set in motion this weekend an alternative conspiracy theory implying that the FSC/APHSS was either mortally wrong or simply the tip of a horrendous coverup.

Ground Zero for the rumor was a blog by former performer Michael Vegas, who put out the notion that FSC was hiding the true nature of the tests done on Patient Alpha. Using as "sources" emails he claimed he got from a "PersonX" whom either knew Patient Alpha or whom had gotten the testing info from Talent Testing Services, Inc. (one of the other testing companies whom had initially tested Patient Alpha before APHSS got a hold of him), Vegas used an supposed email exchange between "PersonX" and an executive of Manwin, Inc. (the parent company of Brazzers.com, the porn production company for whom Patient Alpha was alleged to have worked), to belt out the following conspiracy theory:

1) PA allegedly had three straight "positive" HIV tests.
2) The three straight positive tests were allegedly all PCR-DNA tests, which were supposed to be the most reliable in detecting early sero-infection of the HIV virus.
3) The negative test used by APHSS to clear PA was (just as allegedly, according to Vegas) the ELISA test, an older test that is more reliable for detecting more developed sero-infections, but less so for new infections due to the latent period where antibodies can be cloaked within the bloodstream without detection (the period is usually 30-60 days).
4) How can APHSS clear PA based on the ELISA test which is less unreliable, especially when three PCR tests still came up "positive"??
5) Therefore, something's not right here (according to Vegas), and either APHSS is lying about the negative test and deliberately covering up an infected performer threatening others, or Manwin/Brazzers is allowing an infected performer to continue to work.


A few other commentators then spread the story around the porn gossip grapevine, raising thoughts of anything from accident to outright coverup, and even stating that this proved AHF's point that APHSS shouldn't be trusted and that only AHF's position for mandatory condom usage was the most doable position.

Of course, those who actually knew a thing or five about the testing process would attempt to chime in that the ELISA test is NEVER used as a follow up verification test exactly because of its latency window, or that it would be a serious violation of medical privacy laws for anyone to reveal testing results to any other person other than the patient without a waiver. But, before today, such logic would probably not be heard above the screams and howls of fear and smear.

Before today, that is.

Just this afternoon, FSC/APHSS, through the FSC blog, released a statement updating the process of the testing of Patient Alpha, and it pretty much blasts through the noise and the bullshit and clears the fog.

I will simply repost the statement in its entirity.



In the interest of providing accurate information to industry and media, Free Speech Coalition (FSC) has issued this update to explain the process of testing that took place for the adult performer identified as ‘Patient Alpha.’
In cooperation with the performer, FSC has reconstructed the process of testing for Patient Alpha, which resulted in what is now believed to be at least one false positive result and touched off a week-long industry moratorium on content production.
According to reports from the performer, the dates and sequence of tests are as follows:

Initial tests, administered by an unnamed testing facility -


  • August 20- PCR/NAT; results come back “reactive” (indication of HIV exposure)
  • Followed up with Western Blot and ELISA tests; both results negative for these tests

Secodary tests, administered by Talent Testing Services (TTS) -

  • August 29 – PCR/DNA test is reported to patient as “reactive”
  • Followed up with Western Blot and ELISA tests that produced negative result
  • August 31 – Patient is contacted by TTS and told that results of an additional PCR/DNA test on original blood sample is negative
Test administered by Advanced Medical Testing Centers (AMTC – an APHSS.org recommeneded testing facility) –

  • Sept 3 – PCR/RNA, Western blot and ELISA tests all return negative results; patient is informed
FSC would like to add that none of the results for tests taken outside of APHSS.org program can be confirmed at this time, except as reported by the patient. Talent Testing Services [is not a participant] in APHSS.org.

Patient Alpha  has signed a medical information release waiver and APHSS.org medical advisers have requested copies of the raw data of the test results from Talent Testing Services. There has been no response at this time.


PCR/RNA is the only HIV test approved by the FDA for diagnostics in “primary or accute infection,” but also must be confirmed with supplementary tests. This is a more recently-developed test than the PCR/DNA, which is the industry standard for monthly testing of performers.


When test results were returned by AMTC and after consultation with APHSS.org medical advisers, FSC/APHSS.org was satisfied that the moratorium on content production could be lifted this past Saturday.
So, apparently, this is what really happened:

-- Patient Alpha tested "reactive" using a variation of the PCR test, but negative under the other tests (W-Blot, ELISA), using one testing facility
-- Probably scared shitless, he goes over to TTS, who does the full followup tests on him, with the same reported result ("reactive" PCR, negative W-Blot and ELISA)...but then gets the news that another PCR test on the initial blood sample turns up NEGATIVE.)
-- Now confused as well as scared, PA goes over to APHSS, who refers him to AMTC, who runs a third battery of tests on him..which all show up negative.
-- APHSS, now wondering what the hell that initial "reactive" test was all about, requests the raw data from TTS for their own analysis. That, apparently, is still pending.

(It should be noted that TTS is independent of APHSS, and at one time, after AIM was disbanded, was promoting themselves as the go-to testing facility before APHSS was formed.)

So, as it stands right now, the only truly verifiable tests done on Patient Alpha have proven negative...although the process probably won't be fully completed until the 30-60 day latency period is passed and followup testing is done, and all the other contacts can be tested and verified. If none of them are found to be HIV+, then the game is over.

And maybe, people will regain the ability to know the difference between truth and rumor.


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