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Jennifer Ketcham Headshot

Syphilis Valley

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The people in porn seem to be connecting the dots, but not because pornographers, performers, and agents are sounding the war cry and finally endorsing the widespread use of condoms. Had they caught onto the importance of condoms, safe sex and the seriousness of the STDs condoms usually prevent, the dots of which I speak may not have been syphilis' symptomatic rash.

Wait. Syphilis? Are people hanging out in French brothels circa 1490? Is this pre-1940s? What ever happened to using penicillin to stop syphilis? Is there really a syphilis outbreak that shut down some of the biggest porn sets in the valley?

The answer is an emphatic and horrified, "Yes." It's not because a naive performer caught it early in his new 28-day STD testing period and then accidentally allowed it to spread until a new test came back positive. It's because a performer forged test results, having known he came up positive for syphilis in July, and continued to infect the rest of the performers as well as anybody with which they crossed paths.

This is where I say a silent prayer and express gratitude that I am no longer a part of that business.

In an earlier HuffPo article, Steve Hirsch of Vivid, bless his heart, claimed that the porn industry is "self-regulated" and that using tax payer's money to enforce or regulate something like condom use is a waste. But then something like this happens and a big, obvious hole is poked in his self-regulation theory with a big, syphilis infected you-know-what.

See, the problem is bigger than the performers having sex within the industry. The problem is that some adult stars are escorts and have sex with men (and women) outside the business. For the right price, some may even be willing to take that "outside-the-industry condom" off, an option for many high-priced escorts. The problem then becomes that the men and women hiring escorts go home and have sex with their partners, significant others, insignificant others etc., etc. This is a community problem and the community is much bigger than the adult industry.

If condoms are required, then it will make the job more difficult for male performers to perform -- so they claim -- though with the advance of wonder drugs like Viagra and Cialis, I had yet to see a real struggle in maintaining a full-mast. Some viewers might be a little distracted by what should also, hopefully, resemble real life: an almost transparent condom covering someone's magical love stick. It may cause legitimate company sales to go down and the uploading of homemade porn to rise. Or, as has been ambiguously mentioned across media platforms, required condoms in pornography may "drive the industry underground." But there are some positives that may come from it too.

Porn might influence it's viewers in a radically healthy way by introducing the use of condoms, where if porn stars use them, well then shoot, we as a society might use them more too. It might spread the socially conscious idea of practicing safe sex, where it's actually kind of sexy to care about your immune system enough to wear a condom. And within the industry, there would be one last stand against morally inept performers who seem to have no qualms giving back what has been given to them.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the next time a performer fudges his or her STD test, it won't be for a disease penicillin can cure.