A coalition that represents the largely San Fernando Valley-based adult film industry has asked production companies nationwide to halt work until reports of a cluster of five syphilis cases have been substantiated.

At least one performer who tested positive for syphilis has contacted the Canoga Park-based Free Speech Coalition, which represents the adult film industry.

The coalition released a statement Monday asking performers to test for the sexually transmitted disease as soon as possible rather than wait for the industry’s semi-annual syphilis testing program, often scheduled for September.

More than 1,000 performers are eligible for testing and treatment, which producers have offered to pay for, according to the coalition.

“I always appreciate how our industry comes together in a time of need,” FSC Executive Director Diane Duke said in a statement on the coalition’s website Monday.

“Clearly our industry’s priority is the health and well-being of our performers.”

Reports have surfaced from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health over the weekend, and rumors have circulated on adult film blogs, that five performers have contracted syphilis, possibly stemming from an outbreak in Europe, specifically from Hungary.

Officials with the public health department would not elaborate on Monday, but issued a statement confirming that an investigation was under way.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is investigating recent reports of possible cases of syphilis in the adult film industry,” according to the statement. “The department does not comment on specific or individual cases of STDs.

Some production companies have sent out press releases, asking their directors to stop work.

“We will not shoot until we are confident that it is safe to do so, even though we use condoms in all of our scenes,” according to statement by Wicked Pictures.

The Free Speech Coalition runs the Adult Production Health & Safety Services (APHSS.org), a program that allows adult film performers to test for HIV, gonorrhea and chlamydia every 28 days. Some studios’ policy is to require testing every 14 days, according to the coalition.

“The protocol in place requires syphilis testing every six months; CDC recommendations are for once a year checks, primarily because syphilis is uncommon,” according to the coalition.

The possible syphilis outbreak is further proof that condom use during porn shoots should be mandatory, said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Weinstein has pressed for more regulation of the industry for years, saying that no other business places its workers in as much danger as adult film production.

Syphilis is transmitted during sex through direct contact with a syphilis sore. It’s treatable, but symptoms may not be present for a while. Weinstein called the possible cluster a public health threat, since performers have sexual relations with people who may not be in the industry.

“It’s another log on the fire,” Weinstein said. “This is living proof that self-regulation by the industry is not going to work. This is direct proof that self-testing is not going to work.

“All these diseases will be prevented with one little piece of latex.”

Artilce: www.dailynews.com