Follow-up care was promised but actor says he received none from industry’s clinic
LOS ANGELES — An adult film actor who tested positive for HIV says he now wishes he had known more about the risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases in the industry and is calling for mandatory condom use in porn films.
Derrick Burts, 24, identified himself to the Los Angeles Times as the performer who tested positive at the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation in Sherman Oaks in October. He had previously been known as Patient Zeta.
Burts, who performed in straight films as Cameron Reid and gay films as Derek Chambers, described the panicked call he got from clinic staff on Oct. 9 about the infection that sent fears through California’s adult industry.
Clinic staff told him they wanted to perform a follow-up test and begin notifying performers he had worked with since his last negative test result Sept. 3. He was told those performers would be placed on a quarantine list and also would be tested.
When Burts returned to the clinic Oct. 23 to review the second test results, he said he was told that the clinic had traced his HIV infection to someone he had performed a scene with, someone they described as a “known positive.” The clinic would not identity the performer because of patient confidentiality.
Burts said he believed he may have contracted the disease during a gay porn shoot in Florida.
Despite Burts’ account of what he was told, clinic officials released a statement last month that said “Patient Zeta acquired the virus through private, personal activity.”
“That’s completely false,” Burts told the Times. “There is no possible way. The only person I had sex with in my personal life was my girlfriend.”
She tested negative, he said.
An e-mail to the Adult Industry Healthcare Foundation seeking comment this week was not immediately returned.
Burts said the clinic promised to put him in touch with a doctor affiliated with the clinic and promised to arrange for his follow-up care. But he said no one called him back and when he contacted the clinic, he received no response for two months.
In frustration, Burts said he went to an AIDS Healthcare Foundation center in Los Angeles on Nov. 24 but didn’t identify himself as Patient Zeta.
Burts said he was pleased with the care he received there and contacted the head of the organization last week and identified himself as Patient Zeta. He said he wanted to speak out in favor of enforcing mandatory condom use in porn productions.
Burts grew up in Whittier and Hemet and graduated from Hemet High School and a hotel management school in Florida, according to the Times. He worked as a hotel manager and cruise ship magician before becoming a performer in the lucrative porn industry.
“Making $10,000 or $15,000 for porn isn’t worth your life,” he told the Times. “Performers need to be educated.”
© 2010 Keen News Service
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.