APAG porn union teaser
APAG porn union teaser

This Porn Union Called Truvada a ‘Party Drug,’ and Several Gay Adult Film Stars Have Had It

In a recent series of tweets, the Adult Performers Actors Guild (APAG), a self-described “federally recognized union organizing actors and actresses in the adult film industry,” writes that PrEP — medication proved to be highly effective at preventing HIV — has “become a party drug,” echoing a similar statement made in 2014 by Michael Weinstein, President of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, longtime PrEP opponent and the mastermind behind a failed 2016 bill to ban condomless porn in California.

APAG has also repeatedly said that HIV-positive adult film performers who are undetectable — which the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines as having a viral load with less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood — present a transmission risk to scene partners.

That’s patently false.

APAG porn union truvada
Truvada, the most common form of PrEP

In a Sept. 27, 2017, statement, the CDC stated “People who take ART (anti-retroviral therapies) daily as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.” Over 600 other organizations from 75 countries, including numerous HIV health organizations, major scientific organizations and HIV doctors around the world have all literally signed onto this fact.

The CDC also states, “Daily PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%.” In 2017, Brazil’s Ministry of Health announced plans to make PrEP widely available to help reduce HIV transmissions. France also offers the drug for free to its citizens for the same reasons.

RELATED | Hornet’s ‘Ask a Pro’ Video Explains Common Questions of PrEP and How It Works

Calling PrEP (Truvada being its most common form) a “party drug” is an attempt to diminish what is an effective, vital tool in reducing HIV transmission. It also shows that AGAP is out of touch with the science, which states that undetectability equals untransmitability.

APAG’s tweet (above) is part of the organization’s ongoing response to an April 12 announcement by the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), a nonprofit trade association of the pornography and adult entertainment industry, of a “precautionary production hold” after an adult performer listed in the database for Performer Availability Scheduling Services (PASS) contracted HIV.

The FSC has said that the performer had only participated in shoots that “employed both condoms and PASS testing for STI prevention.” The FSC later determined the unnamed performer didn’t contract HIV on-set and lifted their production hold on April 17, after all the performer’s other scene partners tested negative for HIV.

On April 19, APAG wrote on Twitter that nobody on its board is against HIV-positive performers, clarifying, “What we are for is antigen testing so performers know who is a carrier. Then performers can decide who they want to perform with.”

Antigen testing is a type of HIV test that detects proteins on virus cell surfaces and is, thus, more accurate than Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT), a type of HIV test that only detects HIV when the blood contains a certain amount of the virus.

APAG later wrote that NAT for HIV Type 1 can give a false negative if the performer is undetectable, and wrote, “We are against performers not being aware of each other’s HIV status or what the gay industry calls ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ if a condom is used.”

APAG then retweeted an erroneous post by gay porn performer Jaxton Wheeler that stated “50% of kids on [PrEP] are out drinking every weekend and that alone kills it’s effectiveness if you’re not on regimen. It’s another justification in a young mind for unprotected sex.” Wheeler didn’t say where he got his statistic from, and no studies have shown that alcohol has any effect whatsoever on the effectiveness of PrEP.

APAG porn union couple

APAG also began citing a 2011 CDC study that determined undetectable people living with HIV were only 96% likely not to transmit HIV to their partners. “The studies [were] on ‘couples’ not the adult industry, who have a lot more higher [sic] sex partners,” the group wrote.

But three large multinational research studies since then have disproven APAG’s claim. All three studies involved couples in which one partner was living with HIV and the other wasn’t. The 2015 HPTN 052 study, the 2016 PARTNER study and the 2017 Opposites Attract study all observed no HIV transmission to an HIV-negative partner while the partner with HIV had a durably undetectable viral load.

Furthermore, these studies followed approximately 3,000 male-female and male-male couples over many years while they did not use condoms. Over the course of the PARTNER and Opposites Attract studies, couples reported engaging in more than 74,000 condomless episodes of vaginal or anal intercourse, according to the Gay Male Journal, an online resource for gay men’s health.

In a particularly tone-deaf tweet (below), APAG disavows claims that it wants a blacklist of HIV-positive performers but also calls having no sexually transmitted infections “clean,” a long-outdated term that implies people living with HIV or other STIs are somehow “dirty.”

On April 3, 2018, APAG brought HIV-negative gay porn performer Billy Santoro onto its board. Less than a month later, in an April 19 video, Santoro claimed the purpose of APAG was not to protect models and resigned from the union.

In the April 19 video, Santoro said the FSC’s PASS system basically “blackballs” HIV-positive performers, regardless of whether they’re undetectable. He then announced his resignation from APAG’s board “because I do not agree with the bigotry they’re perpetuating.”

Santoro claims that tests for syphilis will still register levels of the virus in the blood, but that the FSC will allow performers who contracted syphilis in the past to perform if they determine the remaining virus levels are too low to transmit it to another person. He basically says the same should apply to HIV. He then calls for the FSC to reform its PASS system so as not to discriminate against HIV-positive performers.

“I challenge the LGBT porn industry to not use [the FSC’s PASS system] because they are discriminating against you, and that’s not right. And I want to know where all of my HIV activists are in backing me up here. This is doing nothing but perpetuating the stigma.”

Santoro isn’t the only gay porn star on Twitter to publicly oppose APAG’s untrue stance. Porn performers Roman McCoy, Harvey Winn, Derek Gauge, Sebastian Rio and Kurtis Wolfe have all engaged APAG since its tweets regarding undetectability and PrEP.

In November, Hornet became the first gay social network to support the international Undetectable = Untransmittable campaign (U=U), which combats HIV stigma by raising awareness that an undetectable viral load means HIV is untransmittable.

We have reached out to porn union APAG, the FSC and Billy Santoro for comment.