Los Angeles porn industry-funded clinic closed down in wake of HIV case revelation   2010-12-10 09:37:19 FeedbackPrintRSS

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- Officials from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health have shut down a local health clinic aimed at testing and treating adult-film actors and actresses on Thursday, after an HIV-positive actor criticized the facility for failing to take good care of him.

Adult Industry Medical (AIM) Healthcare Foundation, a nonprofit clinic which was co-founded by former porn star Sharon Mitchell and internist Dr. Steven York in 1998, has been operating as a doctor's office, the officials said, but it was in fact a medical clinic" and therefore subject to more rigorous standards."

Based upon a state denial of the clinic's application for a community clinic license, County health staff issued a cease-and-desist order to the Sherman Oaks-based and porn industry-funded clinic.

"AIM does not have a license to operate a medical clinic," a statement released by the department said. "Today's cease-and-desist order means that AIM must stop providing medical services until it has obtained the appropriate license from the state."

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), a nonprofit medical group which is regarded as one of AIM's critics, applauded the move.

"After years of total inaction, Los Angeles County officials have finally shut down AIM -- the porn industry's sham clinic," Michael Weinstein, president of AHF said in a statement.

Aside from providing HIV-related services, AIM also provides condoms, testing and treatment for other sexually transmitted diseases, pap smears, psychiatric assessment and drug and alcohol counseling, the clinic said.

On Wednesday, Derrick Burts, 24, who was tested positive at AIM on Oct.9, criticized the clinic for failing to provide him with follow-up medical care and treatment.

The actor, who has until now been referred in pubic as "Patient Zeta," had waited in vain more than six weeks for AIM and its medical consultant, Dr. Aaron Aronow, to link him with more medical care, he said at a news conference hosted by AHF.

"AIM wasn't there to protect me or help me. They were there to protect themselves in the media and to blame everybody else," Burts said. "It makes me question how many more times does this have to happen before something is done about it."

The staff at the clinic told the actor that they had traced his HIV infection to someone he had performed a scene with whom they described to him as a "known positive." When Burts returned to the clinic Oct. 23 to review the second test results, the staff refused to name the performer nor make public the gender, citing patient confidentiality.

AIM staff put the performer in touch with a doctor affiliated with the clinic and promised to arrange for his follow-up care. However, no one followed up, and he felt neglected.

The actor has performed at straight and gay porn scenes during his brief tenure in the industry.

Burts was also warned by AIM staff not to contact the AHF, whose officials have been among the clinic's chief critics. In frustration, Burts went anyway and never gave his identity, he added.

Referred by a friend outside California, Burts anonymously sought medical treatment for his HIV through AHF, which arranged a medical appointment for him within 24 hours of his first contact at one of its Los Angeles-area centers, without anyone there knowing his role in the adult film industry.

In a statement released on Wednesday, AIM criticized AHF for manipulating "Patient Zeta" for its own purposes.

"AIDS Healthcare Foundation has a history of aggressive and hostile actions against AIM, and the most distressing aspect of this situation is that Patient Zeta is simply being manipulated for AHF's own purposes and in furtherance of their agenda and AIDS Healthcare Foundation," the statement said. 

Editor: Deng Shasha
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