Thursday, June 21, 2012

Porn Panic 2012, Supplemental: APHSS/FSC/Cutting Edge Testing Blink First, Abandons Abbot HIV Test

Already, we are seeing the first signs of a breakthrough in the Great Porn Testing War.

Remember that battle between the Free Speech Coalition/their APHSS protocols/Cutting Edge Testing and Shy Love/ATMLA/LATATA over which tests would be most effective in diagnosing HIV??

If you will recall, CET and APHSS had been promoting a dual regimen of testing using two new tests: the Aptima HIV1-RNA Qualitative Assay which is a diagnosis test, and the Abbot RealTime HIV 1 Assay which is more of a viral load test that focuses on the level of infective antibodies in a person's bloodstream.

CET had been using the older PCR-RNA tests as well as Abbot, and until Manwin ponied up with the funds to purchase them a new "machine" to perform the Aptima tests, it was only TTS whom had provided Aptima. Manwin's "gift", however, evened the score, and it strengthened the efforts of APHSS to allow both tests as used for a more comprehensive testing regime.

The problem was that Abbot is not yet sanctioned by the FDA as a standalone HIV test due to concerns about its accuracy, and the fact that it along with Aptima, of whom no one in the industry opposed, were equally favored did raise some concerns amongst agents.

Well, today CET and APHSS threw in the needle, so to speak. From XBiz.com:

APHSS to Only Accept Aptima HIV Test

 CANOGA PARK, Calif. — APHSS.org today said that starting Aug. 31 it will accept only the Aptima HIV-1RNA Qualitative Assay test for monthly performer screening.

The move comes after dialogue with industry members who have expressed concerns over the “off-label” use of the Abbott RealTime HIV 1 Assay HIV PCR test, said the APHSS, formally known as Adult Production Health & Safety organization.

"Though recommended to APHSS.org by experts for screening purposes, the Abbott test is not FDA-approved for diagnosis of acute (early) HIV infection," the organization said in a statement.

Producers approached FSC Executive Director Diane Duke with concerns over the off-label use of the Abbott test, leading to a decision to accept only the FDA-approved test.

“In our research as to the best test for the industry there were expert doctors and pathologists that preferred the Abbot test which is why we kept it on the list,” Duke said. “But we heard from producers and performers that they would prefer only the Aptima test. All of the experts we spoke with said that both tests were appropriate, so Aptima it is.”

The Aptima test, a "qualitative" one that looks for the HIV virus itself and reveals a prognosis of either infected or not infected, is FDA-approved for early diagnosis of HIV infection. It also has a 9-11 day “window period,” which shortens the time of accurate diagnosis, compared to a 14-day window for PCR-DNA tests previously used by APHSS.org and the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare (AIM) clinic.

The Aptima test is a "qualitative" one that looks for the HIV virus itself and reveals a prognosis of either infected or not infected.

The APHSS program was developed to fill the void left by the AIM clinic closure. APHSS upholds industry self-regulation of performer testing and carries on with the protocols developed by the AIM clinic for handling of any STI exposure incidents that may occur on adult sets.

APHSS said that includes responsibility for protocols in the event of an HIV exposure, as well as any needed production moratoriums.

The Aptima vs. Abbott debate reached its pinnacle last week after a producers meeting was called to discuss the issues between the two performer tests.

Some two dozen adult entertainment executives and others, along with three officials from Gen-Probe, makers of the Aptima "machine," gathered at Penthouse in an event coordinated by Shy Love to discuss why the Aptima is the far-superior choice for the porn biz.
 The main advantage of Abbot was that it could also be used to test for viral loads of other STI's like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and Hepatitis B and C. The Aptima test only applies to HIV.

Whether or not this begins the process of bridging the gap between the two factions, we can only wait and see....and hope.

Porn Panic 2012, The Series Rolls On: Shy Love Proves She Has Some Nukes, Too: Dissolves ATMLA, Rejoins LATATA, Who Then Gives APHSS The Boot

It just got real.  Again.

Yesterday, Shoe #1 dropped when Shy Love announced that she was dissolving her porn talent agency group, Adult Talent Management-Los Angeles (ATM), and rejoining the larger collective of talent agencies, The Licensed Adult Talent Agents Trade Association (LATATA), which comprises the majority of adult trade agencies.

I had initially wondered what that was all about, since Love was the leader of the sternest critics of the moves of the Free Speech Coalition and Manwin, the conglomerate of porn production companies, to consolidate performer testing through their Adult Performer Health and Safety Services (APHSS), and in particular Cutting Edge Testing (CET), the company which was formed by former associates of Adult Industry Medical (AIM) Foundation after the latter was driven out of business by attacks by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in pursuit of their goal of imposing mandatory condom usage by porn performers.

Love and her agency had previously favored a rival testing org, Talent Testing Services (TTS), which had became the go-to agency for testing in the breach between the closing of AIM and the founding of CET.

Problem was, CET had not only the backing of FSC/APHSS, but then got some serious reinforcement when Manwin announced their plans to strengthen and redefine testing protocols across the board...and promptly threw their weight behind CET not only by instituting the APHSS protocols, but endorsing CET as the exclusive source of testing for their shoots.

This is because the APHSS protocols do not currently allow TTS as an APHSS-certified agency, due to some disputes over testing procedures between FSC and TTS...and some other past .

Mostly, over the "outbreak" of last year, in which a performer was originally first tested positive for HIV, then later cleared when the original test turned out to be a false positive due to supplemental testing done by FSC/APHSS. It turned out that the initial testing was done by another agency, but TTS was involved in the follow up that resulted in some confusion over the exact status of the performer...and it wasn't until APHSS intervened with their own tests that the matter was cleared up.

In the minds of FSC/APHSS, this proved that only consolidation of testing to one company with stringent standards across the board would prevent future clusterfucks..and that probably explains why they supported the development of Cutting Edge as the gold standard of testing.

Problem is on that, though?? Many performers and agents were quite happy with Talent Testing, and they feared that FSC/APHSS was attempting to reestablish an monopoly on testing and limit competition and testing..and the actions of Manwin only deepened their fears.

And apparently, Shy's won the rest of the agents over to her view, too...because cue The Other Shoe Dropping...or maybe it should be, The Other Boot Kicking (via AdultFYI):


LATATA Withdraws Support from APHSS Over TTS Issue
Los Angeles, CA– The Licensed Adult Talent Agents Trade Association (LATATA) announces its formal withdrawal of support from APHSS, the subsidiary organization set up by the FSC - (Free Speech Coalition).

APHSS was initiated after the closure of AIM, as a mechanism through which to administrate testing for performers in the adult industry. LATATA believes APHSS position in refusing to allow Talent Testing Service (TTS) to become a member of APHSS to be a grievously wrong one.

LATATA's position is that TTS has provided the industry with reliable and good service for many years and LATATA's hope is that may continue. Many in the industry will recall that during the time that AIM Health Care was providing testing services to the industry, Talent Testing Service was providing this service concurrently alongside them. Performers enjoyed their ability to choose which facility they wished to have provide them the industries required medical testing.

At the time of AIM’s forced closure, after pressure and interference from AIDS Health Care Foundation (AHF), TTS was, for a period of time, the only available testing facility to the adult industry, and the industry was immensely grateful to have TTS available as an alternate for AIM at that time. Without them, one can only wonder where performers would have turned for their testing requirements.

LATATA firmly believes that it is imperative that the industry never again, allow itself to be in such a position where its testing needs are serviced and provided by only one testing facility, and therefore, inclusion of both testing facilities that currently service the industry - Talent Testing Service (TTS) and Cutting Edge Testing (CET) - are necessary in any program that purports to provide assistance and or a framework for performers’ testing needs and related matters.

Despite formidable effort from members of LATATA to bridge the gaps and mediate differences between APHSS and TTS, such efforts have not been successful. Absent APHSS admitting TTS to the organization, it is LATATA’s position that it can no longer support APHSS itself, and announces its withdrawal of support and participation in APHSS. LATATA continues to support TTS’ continued service to the industry and the performers within it.

LATATA also wishes to make clear that withdrawing its support for and participation in, the APHSS program, in no way alters or changes its continued support and gratitude for The Free Speech Coalition itself and the work that it does to benefit all within the adult entertainment industry.

As of June 2012, LATATA members are comprised of the following agencies: LA Direct Models, Spiegler Girls, Foxxx Modeling, Type 9 Models and ATMLA.
There have been two reasons given by APHSS as to why TTS wasn't originally allowed into the APHSS orbit: 1) The lack of an accredited doctor at their testing facilities to verify the validity and accuracy of their tests; and 2) the fear that TTS would report any initial "reactive" or "positive" HIV test to the LA County Department of Public Health, which is required by law, before actually verifying the test with followup testing....which would, in FSC/APHSS's mind, cause not only a protracted shutdown of production, but would also give more fuel to AHF and their condom mandate campaign. AHF already has passed a mandate law in the city of Los Angeles (not being enforced currently pending the LA City Council approving guidelines on enforcement, as well as inevitable lawsuits); and an initiative for instituting the mandate across Los Angeles County is now on the ballot for September.  That fear was reinforced due to the 2009 "panic" involving a positive HIV test of a performer that turned out not to have been infected while shooting; because AIM had been summoned by LACDPH to release to them private records of performers as part of the latter's investigation. A local judge ultimately squashed that effort, citing the federal HIPPA act protecting medical records privacy.

TTS's response has been that the requirement for a doctor can be fulfilled through the performer's private doctor or other authority verifying the test, and that they are bound by California state law to reveal positive/"reactive" tests anyway. They have also questioned the security of the database that is used by APHSS, fearing that someone could breach it and reveal performer's private information, just as was done to Desi Foxx during the bad old days of the original Porn Wikileaks. Mostly, though, they see the alliance of Manwin and FSC/APHSS/CET as not-so-thinly-veiled pressure to crowd out TTS and reimpose a one-company monopoly on testing..and they also fear Manwin's history of buying every porn outlet in sight and also promoting free filesharing -- what others see as a perilous permissiveness towards "piracy" that is draining legitimate performers dry.

You could say that this announcement by the now reunited LATATA is their way of saying to Manwin/FSC/APHSS: "Not. So. Fucking. FAST. Buddies. You may have the bank, but we have some tricks ourselves...let's resolve this, and in a hurry."

There is going to be a grand meeting of agents, performers, and other bigwigs coming up this weekend rehashing the entire brohaha over performer testing. After today, it just got just a bit more interesting. As in...a lot.

UPDATE:..XBiz.com now has a story up at their site on the bustout of LATATA from APHSS, and also adds this initial statement of reaction from FSC:

"The Free Speech Coalition welcomes the opportunity to have Talent Testing Services (TTS) as part of our APHSS program. FSC and TTS have come together on some issues but differ on the necessity of initial physician involvement in ordering the test and the provision of results. In the unfortunate case that a performer may test positive for Chlamydia or Gonorrhea, FSC believes that it is important for a performer to be able to get immediate treatment when he or she receives his or her test results. And if a performer tests positive for HIV, FSC believes it is crucial to get that information from a physician.

"FSC supports having a broad range of providers. To date, APHSS participants include 1 clinic (St James) in San Francisco, 2 clinics (Vegas STD Testing) in Las Vegas, 1 clinic (Cutting Edge Testing) in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and Advanced Medical Testing Center (AMTC) with physicians in every state and 4,000 locations nationwide.

"We encourage a continued dialogue with TTS and believe that ultimately, the health and well-being of our performers is everyone’s priority."
Initial attempts at getting TTS into the system were rebuffed by TTS over those very issues. Let's see if this latest sortie of bombs clears heads enough to settle this.

i[Now crossposted over at The Real Porn Wikileaks]

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Porn Panic 2012: Oh, Great: Just What The Doctor Ordered..Disunity!! The Great Testing War

Never let it be said that an industry as dysfunctional as the adult film industry can't find new and different ways to bite their own hands.

It's bad enough dealing with Michael Weinstein and CalOSHA and the condom mandate, but now there is an emerging dustup over modern testing standards that threatens to blow the entire industry standard to smittereens.

Basically, the issue is a war of words between two testing agencies: Talent Testing Services TTS), and Cutting Edge Testing (CET). The former has been one of the primary testing services for porn performers since the demise of the Adult Industry Medical (AIM) Foundation; the latter was formed directly out of the ruins of AIM itself. The latter also happens to have one big advantage: it's backed by the Free Speech Coalition, the main lobbying group for the adult industry, via its main protocol agency, the Adult Production Health and Safety Services (APHSS), which essentially rebooted AIM's old protocols and database and upgraded it for the present.

You will recall last year in the latest HIV porn scare where a performer was found to have been tested positive for HIV, only to find that the series of tests turned out to be a false positive due to contamination of the original sample. You will also recall that the performer had used TTS as his backup test after he was first found to be "reactive", then he switched over to another clinic that was backed by APHSS, which verified the false positive. That raised some barbs from some, since TTS had opted not to be a part of APHSS, citing both costs and "performer choice". Also, FSC had noted that their protocols required any testing agency to have an in-house doctor on staff to verify the accuracy of their testing, which TTS didn't have. It was soon after that episode that Cutting Edge Testing was born, offering updated tests with results as quickly as 24 hours after the needle draws blood, and the latest and greatest testing procedures.

And about those tests?? Well, here is a description of them from the FSC website:

Second, APHSS accepts the Aptima HIV-1RNA Qualitative Assay and the Abbot RealTime HIV 1 Assay HIV PCR tests. After considerable research and contact with infectious disease specialists,pathologists and physicians, APHSS determined that these two tests best meet the needs of our performer population. Both tests have the 9 to 11day window. The Aptima test is sanctioned by the FDA for detection and diagnosis of HIV. The Abbot test is sanctioned by the FDA to determine the viral load of HIV–the amount of the HIV virus present. While the Aptima has been FDA approved for diagnostic, the Abbot test has been identified by experts as an excellent option for the industry because of the doctor’s ability to know the value of the viral load.  The purpose of the initial HIV test is to screen for the presence of HIV, not to diagnose. If a performer tests positive, an additional diagnostic test will then be administered–regardless of the initial test’s brand.
The controversy here is that the Abbot test is sanctioned only for viral loads, but not for diagnosis of HIV (in that, it's similar to the old Western Blot test that was part of the old AIM regime of testing), while Aptima is more related to the old PCR-DNA tests. CET, being an APHSS-sanctioned facility, uses both tests; TTS only uses the Aptima test for their standard.

Nevertheless, for those who prefer TTS either because they personally prefer their facilities or they don't trust CET for its "monopoly" and its backing by the FSC/APHSS, it has become a burning issue with them..especially concerning what they perceive as a power play by FSC to make CET into the one and true gold standard of testing, and freeze out all others.

One particularly not-so-happy performer is Shy Love, who just so happens to be the owner and manager of the Adult Talent Managers - Los Angeles (ATMLA) talent agency, which manages the careers of well over a hundred active performers. She has been one of the more active antagonists against what she sees as CET's "monopoly", as well as what she percieves as the FSC/APHSS' drive to control and standardize performer testing, what she sees as nothing more than a shakedown by the FSC to raise money for their organization.

She is reinforced by other critics of the FSC, including director Nica Noelle and performer January Seraph, who originally questioned the security of the APHSS database when it was formulated last year, as well as former producer, now porn critic, Mike South, whom has been a long-time opponent of the FSC and their stewardship of the testing process.

Mark Kernes has a nice breakdown of the entire donnybrook over at AVN.com; here's how he summarized the debate between Love (backing TTS) and FSC/APHSS:

"Talent Testing Service's requirements were requested by [Free Speech executive director] Diane [Duke]," Love stated. "All requirements including doctors—they have a doctor on file. They said it's done. Diane had also requested that if someone came out positive, that there would be counseling done. TTS had agreed that if someone came out positive, with their new HIPAA paperwork that they had, they had the right to have that person converted over to the APHSS system, where they would provide the counseling. They said they had no problem; that was done. The last resource [sic] was, their APHSS system, to enter the data of positives/negatives into the system so APHSS could have it, TTS told them that they were breaking HIPAA laws and against the law because that actually puts the man in charge, so if there's an error, they're liable, but that there is a program that a programmer can put into the back of the system, which at the time Manwin has said that they are willing to pay for the programming and everything else so that that information can be put into the back of the database, and that requirement was met. So all three requirements that Diane had requested..."

However, when AVN's Roy Salter brought up the objection that there was no doctor at the TTS facility when the performer's blood was drawn, Love responded, "No, the doctor is available. The doctor's the one that writes the prescriptions. Diane's issue was, she wanted the doctors to be the ones to contact the patient if they came out HIV-positive, and by law, the doctor does not have to do that. They can actually have a licensed HIV specialist who is a counselor contact the patient directly to notify them of the circumstances, and if APHSS was going to be doing the counseling, at that point tell them to come in to retest, go to APHSS for counseling, which we fixed all that in two seconds."

Duke made the point, though, that in order to fulfill APHSS's protocols, testing would have to be ordered by a California-licensed physician, which TTS does not currently have. 

Moreover, TTS has previously stated that it would immediately report any positive HIV performer to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health even before any confirmatory test had been done, which would likely result in the shutdown of the industry for as long as a month before even a false positive could be sorted out.
 Or, more likely, in the wake of the condom mandate law, a total seizure and takeover of the industry testing protocols by AHF and an imposition of the condom mandate..which would be far, far worse.

At any rate, the debate seemed to be reaching a stalemate.....that is, until The Gorrilla arrived and put his feet down.

That would be "The Gorilla" as in Manwin, the holding company that has essentially taken over porn production overnight via its holdings of sites like Brazzers, MoFos, Reality Kings, the Playboy collective, Digital Playground, and other sites/production companies. It was Manwin companies who got nearly singed in the last porn panic, since it was accused that Brazzers had allowed the "positive" tested performer to continue to shoot videos while his tests remained in limbo...a charge that was publically leveled by none other than Michael Weinstein of AHF during his attempt to milk it for the condom mandate campaign. And, it was APHSS who rescued Manwin out of the firepit by offering alternative testing that ultimately cleared both the performer and Manwin/Brazzers of any wrongdoing.

Naturally, such good deeds do not go unrewarded. And, when you are the King, you can really, really, really reward. Once again, AVN.com recites the tale:


Manwin Sets New Production Standards

LUXEMBOURG—Manwin has decided to set new best practices regulations for all performers and third party producers hired to create content for its websites.

In its proposal, Manwin supports the system put in place by the APHSS, while also moving beyond the standard industry practice of 30-day interval testing.

The APHSS has set forward a best practices guideline and system that allows performers, producers, and agents to create a controlled work environment.

It includes consistent standards and guidelines for testing and treatment of adult performers, a secure database that ensures performer privacy and protects producer liability, protocol for performer support in the event of a positive HIV test result - including testing of 1st and 2nd generation partners—as well as health and safety resources provided for producers and performers.

In other words..APHSS/FSC is Manwin's choice. Sorry, TTS, but...Scoreboard.

But that wasn't the real game changer in that announcement.  THIS was:

Following months of research, and meetings with various doctors and medical experts from the most respected universities and health institutions in North America, Manwin has decided to implement additional rules for anyone involved in producing content for its sites.

The company will require FDA-approved tests from the clinics listed on the APHSS.org website, specifically the HIV-1 Aptima RNA Qualitive Assay. In addition, the company will require 15-day interval testing for performers.

As of July 1, 2012, adult entertainers performing in scenes commissioned for websites belonging to Manwin will have to provide health tests that are no older than 15 days. Manwin will pay for all additional tests needed under these new rules, in case a performer works for any of the company's brands multiple times in a 30-day period.

Manwin expects producers, performers and agents to be in full compliance with these new regulations, and looks forward to working with the FSC in setting the highest possible standards for the industry.
To summarize, Manwin essentially revolutionized the art of performer testing, by narrowing the window of testing from 30 days to 15, and even backed it up with the option of footing the dime for any performer having to work for any of their sites in multiple scenes.

Oh, but that's not all, either, Clones. Some talk the walk, but it takes real money to back it up. Is this real enough for you??

Manwin Donates Gen Probe Aptima Machine to Cutting Edge

 LUXEMBOURG—Following its decision to enforce stricter health rules and guidelines for its producers and performers, Manwin has purchased the Gen Probe Aptima machine for Cutting Edge Testing.

This piece of equipment performs the Aptima RNA Qualitive Assay, the FDA approved test that Manwin requires as part of the new health standards and procedures from producers, performers and agents.

While researching its new guidelines, Manwin collaborated with various North American health experts and organizations. During this time period, Dr. Peter Miao became a great source of information and support. The renowned infectious disease expert, who was part of the original team of physicians that encountered HIV infections in 1981, oversees the Cutting Edge Testing center.

“Aptima testing by Gen Probe has been available for many years, and is approved by the FDA for the diagnosis of acute HIV infection," Dr. Miao said. "At Cutting Edge Testing, we are now transitioning to the Aptima test for screening of HIV [infections] very shortly."

Manwin is pleased to support Dr. Miao and Cutting Edge Testing.

“This demonstrates Manwin’s concern for the health and safety of all the performers and the industry as a whole,” says Dr. Miao. “By their generous gift, we now can move ahead and perform the Aptima test in the very near future.”

Manwin hopes that the donation will help Dr. Miao and his team continue their work in providing optimal health services to adult entertainment professionals, as well as the public at large.
Yeah. That pretty much settles the case of who Manwin trusts, doesn't it?

The basic reactions from the porn community to this can basically be reduced to two polar opposites: "Whoa!!! Manwin's bringing the porn industry together and finally fighting for performers!!!  KEWL!!!" and "Yeah, right...all Manwin's doing is taking everything over so that there will be nothing left for the rest of us!!!  BOOOOOOO!!!!" I guess that only time will tell who turns out to be right.

And as for Talent Testing Services...well, there is now a movement afoot to get them integrated into the APHSS orbit, so that they can get with the Manwin program, and possibly get themselves some of that green sunshine. (Remember, they already perform the Aptima test long before CET did.) Maybe that can defuse some of the flame throwing now going on.

And then again, there will be folk like Mike South who will dismiss the entire thing as a sideshow circus that detracts from what he considers to be the fundamental flaw with the entire system: the dependency on the databases and the possibility of another breach like what happened with AIM via the original Porn Wikileaks and Desi Foxx, the refusal to add testing for other STI's like HPV, herpes, and syphillis, and ultimately, the refusal to adjust to the new enforcement regime from AHF/LA County/CalOSHA that still may override their best efforts to avoid the condom mandate. Once again, time will either vindicate or crucify his analysis.

And of course, we'll follow everything as we always do here at BPPA. Because we can.

More analysis from Dr. Chauntelle at PVV here; and some from Lydia Lee (channelling Julie Meadows once again, happy to announce) here (also check her podcast here, too).


Update: Uh-oh....seems like Manwin might have spoken just a bit too soon. From the latest post by Sean Tompkins over at The Real Porn Wikileaks:


Manwin is forcing people to test at a certain place as a condition of them getting hired. Manwin insists that all talent pay for the test themselves unless booked more then twice in same 30 day period.. This is a clear violation of LC Section 222.5

No person shall withhold or deduct from the compensation ofany employee, or require any prospective employee or applicant foremployment to pay, any fee for, or cost of, any pre-employmentmedical or physical examination taken as a condition of employment,nor shall any person withhold or deduct from the compensation of anyemployee, or require any employee to pay any fee for, or costs of,medical or physical examinations required by any law or regulation offederal, state or local governments or agencies thereof.

20120613-231620.jpg

Now I’m not a lawyer and I’ve never played one on tv so I could be wrong.

Now, this would get into the debate over whether a porn performer really is an employee or an "independent contractor"; not to mention the fact that California law expressively forbids using HIV status as a condition for denying employment.
There's also been a genuine Twitter debate going on now between Charity Bangs, a performer who is signed with Talent Testing and has raised serious issues about the "monopoly" practices of Cutting Edge Testing and its alliance with FSC/APHSS and now Manwin; Michael Fattorosi (aka "Pornlaw", who has offered some prime legal opinion on the entire episode), and Keiran Lee, Brazzers' main "stud" performer, whom has also raised some astute questions.