FSC-PASS was glad to hear that TTS has chosen to include a free antibody testing panel to their gold standard panel. FSC-PASS had previously evaluated this antibody test, but found it offered no additional risk reduction for performers, while increasing costs for performers by at least $15. PASS will not mandate the use of the test, but sees no issue if TTS or other centers choose to add it to the panel, so long as it does not increase performer costs.
The test, which measures HIV antibodies rather than RNA, is far less sensitive at diagnosing a recent HIV infection — it can have a window period of up a month — compared to the test currently used, which can detect an infection in as few as seven days.
Our true concern with the addition of the antibody test is that it’s not being done for scientific purposes, but in response to false and fear-based rumors of performers with HIV secretly working in PASS. Additions to the testing protocol should be done in consultation with medical doctors and infectious disease specialists, and based on actual risk.
Once more: no performer with HIV is permitted to work within the PASS system, and we have not had a transmission of the virus on a PASS-compliant set since 2004.
While TTS is welcome to add the antibody test to their panel, we do disagree with their statement regarding the HIV prevention campaign U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable). The National Institute of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the California Department of Public Health and hundreds of others public health organizations, infectious disease experts and research studies have confirmed that a person in active treatment for HIV can not transmit the virus to another person — effectively zero risk. Anyone who is curious about the science, can read about it here.