Report of Syphilis outbreak in Budapest

News about: Hungary

Date: Wed 8 Aug 2012
Source: AVN [edited]

Yesterday AVN received a tip from a reliable source with knowledge of adult video production in Europe who said that there is currently an outbreak of syphilis in Budapest. AVN was able to corroborate the tip with Sandy's Models and Brill Babes, 2 of the biggest modeling agencies in the Hungarian capital.

The infection is widespread enough that all production has been put on hold in Budapest until 21 Aug 2012. "There is some serious situation here in Budapest," Cameron of Sandy's Models told AVN. "Yesterday [7 Aug 2012] the Labor [department] sent a warning e-mail that they found that [the number of people infected with syphilis has] dramatically increased."

AVN Hall of Famer Rocco Siffredi, who's based in Budapest, told AVN Tuesday that "today the number of people infected [is] 21 and [the outbreak] is not over!" Both Cameron and Eszter of Brill Babes put the number of syphilis infections at 18 (14 females and 4 males), with 8 female performers receiving positive results on Monday [6 Aug 2012] alone.

"All the models go to double syphilis check from yesterday [7 Aug 2012], and the whole business stops till [21 Aug 2012]," Eszter of Brill Babes told AVN. "After the 21st everyone should retest again, and only the totally clear people are able to work in the future. Maybe the break will take longer; we'll see."

It's not known at this point where the infection originated, but Siffredi pointed out that many foreign performers come to Budapest to shoot, and that he suspects the infection came from somewhere else. "The big problem is that not only local performers are involved but also Czechs and Russians where we believe that this all think start [sic]," he said. AVN will be following this story as it develops.
[In 2004, the CDC reported an outbreak of work-related human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in the heterosexual segment of the adult film industry in Los Angeles, California (<>). At that time, a male performer who had tested HIV negative only 3 days earlier infected 3 of 14 female performers. This outbreak drew attention to the serious risk for sexually transmitted disease (STD) infections in this industry and the need for employing all available safeguards to reduce transmission of HIV and other STDs, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes simplex virus, human papillomavirus, hepatitis B, chlamydial or trichomonal infection, or diseases transmitted through the fecal-oral route.

This CDC report said that at that time there were an estimated 200 adult film production companies in Los Angeles County, employing approximately 6000 workers, of whom 1200 were workers who engaged in direct work-related sexual contact (Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, unpublished data, 2005). alifornia is the only state in the US where the filming of pornography is explicitly legal (<>), and Los Angeles County is the largest center for adult film production worldwide (<>).

The workers in the adult film industry have multiple sex partners during short periods with whom they engage in frequent and often prolonged sexual acts. The risk for HIV/STD transmission is great because the production companies in the heterosexual segment of this industry generally did not require condom use for any type of sexual act. In addition to actors, employees in this industry at risk of becoming infected include people who clean up after scenes and people who assist in developing scenes, whether or not they are shown on film. If any sharps, such as razor blades or wires, are used (for shaving, piercing, etc.), they pose a particular risk for spreading infection because they can puncture the skin.

The CDC report says many producers and workers in the heterosexual segment of the adult film industry were to participate in a voluntary program of periodic HIV and STD testing, with results shared among workers and producers. However, screening alone is not adequate to prevent transmission of HIV or other STDs because infected persons can transmit these diseases for a period before their infection can be diagnosed. In addition, the cost of health services was borne by the workers themselves, which could cause some workers to reduce HIV and STD screening or avoid or delay pursuing vaccination for hepatitis B virus (HBV).

In this report, the CDC says that during June 2000-December 2001, before voluntary monthly STD screening was instituted, prevalences of chlamydial infection and gonorrhea among heterosexual adult film industry workers in California were 5.5 percent for males and 7.7 percent for females for chlamydial infection and 2.0 percent for both males and females for gonorrhea (Kodagoda D, et al: STD screening of actors in the adult film industry: alternative testing opportunities to detect and treat STDs. Poster no. P140. Presented at the National STD Prevention Conference, San Diego, CA; 2002.). By comparison, an analysis of a nationally representative sample of young adults aged 18-26 years during April 2001-May 2002 revealed prevalence of chlamydial infection among males and females to be 3.7 percent and 4.7 percent respectively, and, similarly, prevalence of gonorrhea to be 0.4 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively (Miller WC, ord CA, Morris M, et al: Prevalence of chlamydial and gonococcal infections among young adults in the United States. JAMA 2004; 18: 2229-36).

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health requires employers, including the adult film industry, to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees, and pay the costs of their health and safety program (California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Notice to employees and employers in the adult film industry. 2004. Available at <>). Protections include measures such as simulation and use of condoms and other barriers where needed to prevent exposure. Other provisions include employee training and vaccination for hepatitis B virus. However, enforcement of the workplace standards is now the issue (<>).

The current news report above fails to indicate what policies or procedures, if any, are in place or enforced in the Budapest adult film industry to provide a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. Also, we are not informed if screening of employees for HIV infection or STDs other than syphilis was done, or if screening of the sex partners of the employees has taken place in view of the syphilis outbreak.

Budapest, with a population of 1.74 million in 2011, is the capital and the largest city of Hungary, the largest in East-Central Europe and the 8th largest in the European Union (<>).

A HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of Hungary can be accessed at
<>. - ProMed Mod.ML]

Source: ProMed Newsgroup Date: 11-Aug-2012 20:38:57