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Porn as Progressivism

News & Features | November 15, 2010

South Africa is a country that has been devastated by the spread of HIV. This epidemic, especially rampant in the Black community, only underscores the existing hardship and trauma that Africans have endured in South Africa for many years. Currently, the country is taking a step in the right direction to fight the HIV/AIDS battle due to the most unlikely source: the porn industry.

In the beginning of October, South Africa took a proactive measure in combating the spread of HIV in porn. They created their first pornographic production in which all actors are black, HIV-tested, and condom-adorned.

While Africa does not have a large porn industry, South Africans do (like any society) buy and sell a significant amount of pornographic film. And thus, porn has the power to reach a large population of people in Africa. Tau Moreno, producer of a new porn film building off of this health consciousness, called for people to not only audition for his new all-black, all “safe-sex” porn film but also to get tested to ensure that they did not have any HIV or any other sexually transmitted diseases.

South Africa is suspected of being the nation with the highest number of people infected with HIV/AIDS in the world. Moreno, in an interview with the Guardian, came to the conclusion that “if there are gentle, subtle social messages that wearing a condom is acceptable,” then condoms will slowly begin to lose the stigma that they carry. If people begin to see porn stars, who have sex for a living, using condoms and getting tested, then the thought is that the average person, too, will begin to realize the merit inherently found in safe sex.

Producing pornography with condoms, as Moreno knows, will not force people, nor make people feel obligated, to wear a condom. It will, however, make it more appealing to be responsible and certainly give them a small push toward doing so.

South Africa is not the only country to be seriously health conscious when it comes to HIV/AIDS awareness in the porn industry. Here in America, the Los Angeles porn industry recently shut down due to one of their actors testing positive for HIV. While the pornography industry has many safety measures and precautions in place to prevent the transmission of STDs on set, sexually transmitted diseases are a widespread and fast-growing problem within porn. In years past, many adult film productions have been stopped and movies have been halted midway through when an actor is tested and found to have acquired HIV. While HIV/AIDS is an obvious public health issue in general, it escalates when the mere description of a job requires one to participate in the act of its transmission. A porn star, by definition, is more sexually active than the average person and is thus that much more likely to acquire a potentially life-threatening disease such as HIV or AIDS.

This makes the porn industry a topic of much moral and social debate. The state of California’s workplace safety officials have grappled with the issue of safety in an individual’s worksite and have thus considered making it mandatory that pornography film actors/actresses be required to use condoms on film.

While many could argue that it is not the responsibility or role of the pornography industry to educate the citizens of South Africa about safe sex, information about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases is very limited. Thus, the porn industry has made it their mission to use their power to reach millions who are exposed to HIV on a daily basis and lead by example. Mr. Moreno concedes that while it is not, in fact, his job to educate the people of South Africa, there is no reason why he shouldn’t or couldn’t do so. By merely creating a pornographic film, Mr. Moreno has the ability to reach and educate a large portion of the South African population, and thus any message that he puts in his video will, however perceived or taken to heart, reach a strong majority of people.

Thankfully, Mr. Moreno will continue to do everything that is in his power until “the average African-American man understands that wearing a condom during sex can be both good for them and pleasurable.”. And in the meantime, he will provide them with pleasure simply from his films until they take his messages to heart and an epidemic of safe sex replaces an epidemic of HIV.