Working in an industry where the potential for harm via infectious diseases is ever-present, I'm always saddened and scared to hear news of a fellow adult performer unknowingly contracting HIV. Its a cold, hard moment when your livelihood seriously impacts your life in such a negative way. Disease remains a preoccupation for many people looking at porn from the outside (and for many of us on the inside too). In my mind, it's not that far off from the Chilean miners who put their lives at risk every day to wrench resource out of Mother Earth for the rest of us. Our economy drives us all down scary paths.
As everyone knows, the main work-related hazard in the sex industry is infectious disease, chief among them HIV. You only hear of HIV scares in the straight porn industry though. In order to meet the market need for condomless porn in the safest way possible, the straight porn industry regularly tests models through AIM (Adult Industry Medical Healthcare). Most traditional gay DVD studios have resolute condom-only policies and will often refuse to work with performers who engage in bareback sex on film. Other internet companies have begun to explore the bareback market with varying degrees of concern for models (Jake requires testing).
Porn is a vastly under-regulated industry that teeters on legality. Many state governments avoid directly interfering with such a socially maligned (albeit necessary) business. No one has stepped in to regulate the gay sex industry with a uniform testing policy. In the recent past, the handful of large film studios that held a monopoly on business self-regulated themselves (and maintain the same standards to this day). The prevalence of internet startups has changed the game. Many can't afford or simply don't abide by a similar ethos of self-enforced policing.
AIM can be a bit of a racket in its own special way. The test is EXPENSIVE ($200). Many models are left to pay for this exorbitant fee themselves, without reimbursement. The test is also not easily available for models living outside of Southern California. Some companies require monthly updated results and don't accept test results from personal care physicians or free clinics. As temporary "contractors", forget about healthcare! In my own experience, I've rarely encountered gay companies that require testing for sex with condoms. The ones that do (Randy Blue, Suite 703) have close affiliations with straight porn companies or work with a majority of heterosexual models. Sometimes it feels as if mandated testing is really meant to protect them from us (or at least give the straight models an added reassurance that "we" won't infect them with a gay disease).
Either way, its a complicated issue, and my deepest sympathies go out to the unfortunate model who now has to deal with the implications of HIV infection AND must cope with the stress of bringing an entire industry to halt. Having your personal medical tragedy a major story in every online blog and newspaper can't be an easy burden to shoulder. For whats its worth, I stand in solidarity! Soldier on. . . We are with you.