California, which has laws to make sure restaurant employees wear hair nets, has a code requiring all employers to protect employees from possible exposure to blood-borne pathogens, but the rule doesn't include most porn industry performers who are not full-time employees of the studios that make the films.
Wicked Pictures, an adult entertainment studio that hires its thoroughbred performers to long-term contracts, is the only large studio that still has a strict all-condom policy. Vivid Entertainment, the valley's largest studio, has returned to a condom-optional policy where the female stars make the decision.
As a former participant, Mitchell hopes for a day when all performances occur with some sort of protection involved, but for now she said, "I know the pressures that these talent members go through. They're offered more money. They're told these movies will not sell if there are condoms in it."
Michael Klein, President of Hustler Home Video says the fans are the ones asking for skin-on-skin films. "That seems to be more popular. That sells more. That's why you go through the whole process of testing and everything else. It's pretty much the fans don't want to see condoms."
Jules Jordan of Jules Jordan Video has worked his way from being a porn store clerk to having his own studio and he has a strict no-condom policy.
"Testing's a must for everyone in the industry and that is how I can back up my stance on no condoms. I don't think the fans want to see condoms on film, because the fans are coming to see fantasy and condoms are not usually part of fantasy," Jordan said.
Producers are unwilling to spend the money on expensive special effects that may be able to disguise the protection. Although porn is based on fantasy, shoestring budgets and quick production timetables are the industry standard, so high-tech postproduction is not possible to digitally remove the latex from the scenes.
Although HIV is the sexually transmitted disease that most performers fear, the sad truth of the industry is that anytime bodily fluids are involved without protection the performers are at risk for dangerous and painful diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea.
These painful diseases are treatable by drugs and are not life threatening, but are extremely painful and if untreated can lead to serious complications. These STDs can by transmitted from an actor's private life and spread throughout the industry before the monthly tests are completed.
In 2004 actor Darren James had unprotected sex scenes with 13 actresses during a monthlong period in which his HIV test went from negative to positive. The results were three of those actresses contracted HIV and it was discovered he contracted HIV while filming a scene in Brazil.
The scare caused the industry to immediately implement an all-condom policy for a short period of time until it began to feel comfortable with improvements in the accuracy of the testing technology.
The typical ELISA test offered in a doctor's office has a window period of six months because it tests only for the antibody that can take up to six months to mature in a young healthy person. AIM now uses PCR/DNA (polymerase chain reaction) test that can detect HIV in just after two weeks and claims to have stopped all spread of HIV in the adult entertainment industry in the last four years.