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Saturday, December 10, 2016

BEYOND AIDS 2016 LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITIES, CALIFORNIA

Beyond AIDS legislative activities for 2016 have focused on California. We supported a new bill that passed and was signed. In addition, we supported a voter initiative that failed, and continued follow-up on a bill that had passed recently but had not been implemented.

AB 2439 (Nazarian) will establish a pilot program to study HIV testing in hospital emergency departments. This passed, was signed into law, and will take effect January 2017. The bill was sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and supported by Beyond AIDS. It was watered down from originally requiring all ERs to offer HIV testing. In its final version, it established a study at up to 4 hospitals to determine effectiveness.

Proposition 60, a statewide voter initiative also sponsored by AIDS Health Care Foundation, would have required condoms for adult film industry, and testing at employer expense. Beyond AIDS was named in TV ads and listed as a supporting organization in the voter booklet sent to millions of Californians. Beyond AIDS activists Gary Richwald and Jeff Klausner were both named in the booklet as spokespersons. It failed to pass at the November 8 election, 53 – 47% against with another million votes to be counted.

OSHA CA (Cal-OSHA)’s interpretation of the bloodborne pathogen standard issued years ago for healthcare institutions is that it also requires condom use for workers and employees that are exposed. The industry (producers, but with support from some actors) has fought this for years, initially stating that the actors were independent contractors and not employees, however they were found to be employees in a court case. Their fear is that if condoms are portrayed, fewer films will be sold.

Those involved in the industry, as well as the HIV/AIDS community, are also sensitive to anything involving the government telling anyone how to have sex. However, this argument fails to distinguish bedroom from "industrial" sex. From a public health perspective, we were disappointed that organized medicine (CMA) opposed the initiative out of concern for excessive litigation, because it would have allowed citizens to sue the companies. The power to sue was added to the wording because no one seems to want to enforce rules requiring condoms or involving this industry. Los Angeles voters approved a proposition similar to this one a few years ago, but there has been no enforcement; and Cal-OSHA only acts on complaints.

Beyond AIDS has been in favor of condom requirements for the adult film industry for years, and has been working on this issue for a long time. Several years ago, Denise Bleak and Ron Hattis attended CAL OSHA hearings, but no regulation was ever issued. Peter Kerndt was also an early champion. CAL OSHA has been dragging its feet, but now is talking about once more holding hearings. This issue is important not only to protect workers, but to set a standard for safe sex, since millions of people watch porn and are tempted to emulate what they see. Monica said that this may be a national issue, not just a California thing.

The number of actors in the industry over time is actually fairly large, with considerable turnover, and each performer may have thousands of exposures. There is potential transmission to the general community.

Follow-up of AB 466 of 2013, HIV Test Offering in California Primary Care Clinics

This bill passed in 2013, and has been in effect since January 2014. This law requires HIV testing to be offered if doing blood tests for something else, and if there is no recent test result on record. However, there was virtually no effort to inform the clinics or providers affected, and many still do not know about or follow it. Beyond AIDS has reached out to the California Primary Care Association and received a recent encouraging message from Dr. Mike Witte, Chief Medical Officer. The issue has also been raised at the California Public Health Medical Leadership Forum, of which Ron Hattis is Secretary.

For 2017, Beyond AIDS will look for opportunities to support any legislation and regulations in California, other states, and federally, that could enhance the control and prevention of HIV/AIDS.


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