CYBERSPACE — This week’s news that a second HIV-positive patient has reportedly been cured of infection carries dramatic implications for adult entertainment.
“For just the second time since the global epidemic began, a patient appears to have been cured,” the New York Times reports. “The news comes nearly 12 years to the day after the first patient known to be cured, a feat that researchers have long tried, and failed, to duplicate. The surprise success now confirms that a cure for HIV infection is possible, if difficult, researchers said.”
A cure is not a pipe dream, but “reachable,” Dr. Annemarie Wensing, a virologist at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, told the Times.
Although cautious optimism is very much the order of the day, an adult industry free from HIV/AIDS, after more than three decades, is suddenly a very real possibility.
Today, as the industry ponders the implications of a cure for the virus, post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a once-daily medication that can block the contraction of HIV, is being touted as a crucial tool for adult industry performers, in addition to long-established STI testing protocols.
Eric Paul Leue, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, spoke with passionate conviction during a panel at the XBIZ LA tradeshow in January about the efficacy of PrEP, FDA-approved since 2012, which Leue described as “birth control for HIV.”
“It’s a revolutionary tool,” he said. “From when HIV came around until recently, all we ever could say was ‘condoms.’ In the industry, we developed testing protocols that have been really effective, but we needed more.”
Gay adult has historically relied on a mix of testing and condoms. But with the recent announcement that influential director Chi Chi LaRue would helm a condomless film for legacy brand Falcon Studios, it is clear protocol has shifted.
“My criticisms in the past always came from a place of concern for the well-being of performers and from the responsibility I had for sending a message to viewers about the importance of safer sex practices,” LaRue said.
“Of course, this was a very big decision for me. I had to be confident that we would be in the safest space possible with the group that I could trust, and that’s why I chose to do it with Falcon Studios. I started working with the studio 30 years ago, right after the beginning of the AIDS crisis, and when (studio founder) Chuck Holmes required condoms in all Falcon movies. Chuck made the right decision to send a message and to help stop more people from contracting HIV or dying from AIDS,” notes LaRue.
Today, LaRue, the FSC’s Leue and industry advocates stress that PrEP should be incorporated into a performer’s overall sexual health and wellness program. However, the idea that a cure — once a possibility so remote as to be safely considered impossible — is on the horizon, however distant, is tremendously exciting.