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How The Latest HIV Scare In The Porn Industry Highlights The Benefits Of Obamacare

By Annie-Rose Strasser  

"How The Latest HIV Scare In The Porn Industry Highlights The Benefits Of Obamacare"

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The pornography industry effectively shut down late last week after word spread that one of its actresses had tested positive for HIV. The news prompted a moratorium on filming until anyone who has had sex with the actress in the last month is able to get tested.

The agent for 28-year-old Cameron Bay told the LA Times that she is “distraught” about the positive result. In a statement, Bay said herself that she plans “on doing everything possible to assist the medical professionals and my fellow performers. Following that, my long-term plan is to take care of myself and my health.”

While some hope that Bay’s story highlights the importance of using condoms on-set — which has become a heated debate since LA voters approved a measure to do just that in November — the broader policy implications of Bay’s HIV test are actually about health care coverage. As another industry professional told the LA Times, Bay and others in her position can struggle to get good long-term care:

An HIV positive test can leave an adult performer out of a job while faced with costly medical treatment.

“There’s no health insurance, there’s no union; there really isn’t a safety net,” said Aurora Snow, a recently retired adult film actress. “… I feel really bad for her. It’s got to be really tough to get that kind of news.”

It’s true that Bay is looking at much worse employment prospects now that she is HIV positive. Given the industry’s open resistance to using protection on-set, it’s likely she won’t find as many employers willing to take her on.

This highlights a flaw in employer-based insurance programs, which leave people at the mercy of their employers when it comes to adequate health coverage. Bay will now have to worry about bouncing between insurers and finding the best, most affordable care.

But, thanks to Obamacare, she doesn’t have to go entirely without coverage. Bay will qualify for the new health care marketplaces and, since the law stipulates that she cannot be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition, she’ll also be able to get coverage from whoever her next employer may be. Plus, the health law provides a lot of new benefits for people with her condition. She will have no lifetime limits on her care, and, should she struggle to find work and fall on hard times, she could be one of the nearly half of HIV-positive people who get covered through the newly-expanded Medicaid program.

Bay’s predecessors weren’t so lucky. The adult film industry also shut down in 2011, 2010, and 2004 thanks to HIV scares, one that turned out to be a false alarm and two that represented life-changing events. In the 1980s, an outbreak of HIV/AIDS in the industry left several actors infected, many of whom died.

After her positive result came back, Bay tweeted, “I really want to thank everyone who has shown their support I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I will keep you updated about situation and share with you my journey… Like I’ve said this will not hold me down I will be OK and keep my head up.”

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