The porn business is going to keep its elbow room. A petition by an AIDS advocacy group to require that adult film companies use condoms when shooting movies has been denied by a Los Angeles judge. While a few performers require that condoms be used, the practice is not the norm.Judge David Yaffe turned down the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's petition on Tuesday. The organization alleged that health officials haven't been vigilant enough in preventing the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases in the adult entertainment business.

%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%% Several high-profile STD cases in the porn business have emerged over the past decade, including an AIDS scare that brought the industry to a virtual standstill in 2004. Since then, a handful of major performers have been diagnosed with other non-viral STDs, including Belladonna and Sasha Grey.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation sued Los Angeles County in July after it found data showing that more than 3,700 STD cases had been identified over the past five years at Adult Industry Medical, a clinic that serves people in the adult entertainment business. The foundation plans to appeal the decision, which Yaffe says was based on the county's broad discretion in its oversight of public health matters.

Industry insiders, on the other hand, contend that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is taking an overly narrow view of the situation. According to Sherry Ziegelmeyer of Black and Blue Media, an adult entertainment industry public relations firm, "Probably 85% of adult entertainers have an STD at some point. But because there's so much testing, they're found fast and treated fast." She also notes that "the industry standard is that performers need to be tested once every 30 days."

Of course, the entire effort may be irrelevant. The prevailing assumption is that adult films featuring condom use don't make as much money, but Ziegelmeyer says, "That's debatable." Having reviewed fan message boards, she observes, "Three out of five [fans] will say, 'I won't buy any porn with condoms.' But they say that they're buying Vivid. And they'll say that they'll buy Adam & Eve."

So, the condom debate within the industry may be built on a false premise, which is unsurprising. The porn industry has been in a recession since at least 2006 -- while the rest of the world was enjoying the largess of the housing boom -- because it has generally been unable to identify and respond to the most important business issues it has faced. Now, Judge Yaffe effectively has given porn the freedom to do something that increases risk, but has little positive bearing on how much revenue it produces.

But it's the principle that matters, right?

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