HIV-positive porn actor: Mandate condoms

Derrick Burts, the performer at the center of the latest industry outbreak, revives the ongoing debate

Published December 8, 2010 4:45PM (EST)

The porn star at the center of the adult industry's latest HIV outbreak is calling for mandatory condom use. Derrick Burts, formerly known only as Patient Zeta in the press, says he was infected on-set during a gay porn shoot (he's also performed in straight films). However, AIM, the industry's testing center, claims the 24-year-old "acquired the virus through private, personal activity." Burts tells the Los Angeles Times, "That's completely false. There is no possible way. The only person I had sex with in my personal life was my girlfriend." In fact, he says the clinic previously told him that his infection was traced to a performer who was a "known positive," but wouldn't release the patient's name. So here we have a case of he said, AIM said.

Unlike the straight side of the industry, the gay side doesn't require a negative HIV test before shooting and instead relies (in theory, if not always in practice) on condom use. Burts suspects he was infected during a gay porn shoot in which he performed oral sex without a condom. News of the outbreak initially sparked online speculation that the problem with the industry is that performers can go back and forth between the gay and straight sides of the business, which operate under completely different rules. (This also led to some unfortunate homophobic commentary.) I won't rehash the complicated arguments on both side of this ongoing debate -- I already explored some of that at great length here -- or pretend to know the best solution. One thing I'm sure we can all agree on is that, as Burts says, "Making $10,000 or $15,000 for porn isn't worth your life."

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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