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Jessica Dee has HIV partly because the general squeamishness people have about discussing porn means that the main people who talk about it are right-wing zealots (who don't care about the sinners who perform in it) and porn producers (who have a financial incentive not to care about the people who perform in it). If you're wondering why I keep talking about this porn crisis on my blog (hi, Mom!), that's why.

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April 29, 2004

Jessica Dee tests positive for HIV

jessica deeA third performer, porn actress Jessica Dee, has tested positive for HIV, according to Adult Video News (safe for work: that page only; early roundup of the HIV story).

Dee, who had been quarantined on the "first generation" list, worked with Darren James on 3/24/04, the same day that Lara Roxx did, although Dee did not work directly with Roxx. This should pretty much end the irresponsible speculation (my previous comments on that here) that Lara Roxx was the source of the HIV outbreak. There used to be perhaps a 1% chance. Now that is down to about .01%.

The overwhelmingly likely scenario: Darren James is the source of the infection. Early last month he went to Brazil and engaged in high-risk behavior (probability, in order: unprotected, receptive anal sex with a man; needle use; others) and contracted HIV. Harboring HIV unknowingly, he returned and engaged in unprotected sex--including high-risk anal sex with the even higher-risk internal anal ejaculation, a porn industry favorite of late--with at least 13 women.

Which pretty much shows why regulating porn is not the same as regulating private sexual behavior (a favorite argument among porn producers). How many men would have the opportunity, upon contracting HIV, to have unsafe sex with 13 people in a couple or three weeks? It happens, sure. But the current requirements of porn--rough, even bizarre, anal sex among them, and generally unprotected--mean that it was almost guaranteed that Darren James would have a chance to infect many people before he found out about his infection. The fact that this unsafe activity was a job requirement should rightly concern every Californian. If you employ somebody in this state, especially to perform a dangerous activity, the state can lay down rules.

You don't get an exemption because you're making porn. Except that you do.

flyntJessica Dee has HIV partly because the general squeamishness people have about discussing porn means that the main people who talk about it in public forums are either anti-porn zealots, who often don't care about the sinners who perform in it, or porn producers, who have a financial incentive not to care about the people who perform in it. (I've been criticized for speaking out about this HIV crisis by some in the industry because I am not in the industry myself.)

The vast majority of us cede the entire discussion about porn to either people who make it or hate it or hate the people who make it.

If you're wondering why I keep talking about this porn crisis on my blog (hi, Mom!), that's why. Not talking about it, in general, created this problem.

Porn producers have had it easy so far. The shame people feel about consuming porn ($10B worth or so a year) actually works to the producers' advantage. Because people don't want to talk about it, you don't hear much of a discussion about the (lucrative) trend toward rough anal sex and younger and younger performers--a trend that almost certainly helped this crisis happen. "Double-anal" was not exactly common in the Boogie Nights era. That's how Roxx got infected.

And it happened in a coercive way, or at least unethical. She showed up on the set not knowing about the double-anal requirement (accounts differ as to why she was ignorant of it). Then she was told on the spot she could do double-anal or leave without being paid--her choice. Yes, she made the choice. But this is exactly the kind of manipulation that doesn't happen to actors in Hollywood films. They're protected from it six ways from Sunday--government and trade unions among them. And Hollywood actors are playing for much lower stakes.

Jessica Dee had no protection at all, in a job with life-and-death stakes.

No other industry would have been allowed to create such unsafe and unethical working conditions. None.

And if we'd talked about it five years ago, during the last porn industry HIV crisis, we probably wouldn't have let it happen again.

Previous article (and 66 comments): "Let Them Eat HIV"