Donte Thick (Pic: Next Door Studios)
An American adult video star is accused of perpetuating stigma by refusing to film gay sex scenes with HIV positive men, even when they cannot pass on the virus.
Donte Thick, who has been exclusively contracted to Next Door Studios for the past two years, infuriated sexual health advocates with a recent tweet. He was responding to calls to ensure that HIV testing is mandatory for models in the industry.
“Ya everyone SHOULD be tested,” Thick tweeted on Friday. “I don’t want to work with anyone who’s undetectable or detectable. Would be very nice to make this mandatory and also mandatory tests. Idk just sounds smart to me.”
While everyone agrees that testing is vital for people working in adult entertainment, Thick’s comment about refusing to work with HIV positive performers who are “undetectable” was widely condemned.
Science has repeatedly proven that HIV positive people who are on treatment that effectively suppresses the virus become what’s known as ‘undetectable’; in other words, tests can no longer detect the virus in their body. This, in turn, means that they cannot pass on the virus.
In May, an eight-year study confirmed that HIV-positive gay and other men who have sex with men who are on effective HIV treatment cannot transmit the virus through condomless sex.
The research, published in The Lancet, involved nearly 1,000 gay couples in Europe in which one partner was HIV positive and on treatment that suppressed the virus. Over the eight years and 77,000 times the couples had condomless anal sex, there were zero instances of infections between the HIV positive and the HIV negative partners.
Next Door Studios responded to the controversy by announcing that they will not renew Thick’s contract. He then posted a video insisting that he hadn’t been fired and had already decided to no longer work for the company two weeks earlier. He instead plans to focus on working in straight, bisexual and transgender sex videos, he said.
Adult performers, especially those who target the gay market, should use their platform to educate their followers about sexual health when appropriate. They should not be perpetuating stigma and ignorance. Regardless of Thick’s future career plans, he missed an opportunity to make an affirming difference for many people.