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The PCR Test Did Not Work In 2004

Anyone familiar with the adult industry remembers the events of April 2004, when one male performer and three females tested positive for HIV. There was a fifth performer at the time who also tested postive but that case was not related to the others.

But how were these cases detected? At this time the standard industry test was the Roche 1.0 Amplicor HIV/PCR/DNA. The male performer came in on a Friday afternoon. I happened to be at the clinic and he, the AIM emplyee and and myself had about a 30 minute conversation, that included talk of the performers recent trip to Brazil with a group of other performers.

The next morning I recieved my usual call from the lab regarding positive std tests(gonnorhea and chlamydia) and was also told that one HIV test needed to be repeated. This was nothing out of the ordinary. On Monday morning I called the lab to inquire about the repeat test and was told that we were probably going to release it as “Indeterminate” and ask for another specimen. At this time I asked who the patient was. When she told me the name I asked to speak with the head of the molecular department immediately. I told the doctor that I knew that this person had recently been to Brazil to perform in adult productions. The doctors first words were, “Oh shit, we have a problem.”

To make a very long story very short, the subtype of the virus that this patient had contracted was one that the Roche 1.0 test was not specifically designed to detect. We took the original specimen, and though it was not the preferred sample type we were able to run and ELISA test on it, and sure enough it showed “Reactive” That original test resutl read, “Indeterminate” but also contained a clause, “Result is not consistant with other available clinical data.” Phone calls were made and everyone was notified that this was very most likely a positive result.

AIM then identified 12 first generation, and about 44 second generation exposures. It was decided that all of these people would be tested using a variety of tests., PCR. Elisa. Western Blot, and specific antigen tests. Only one of the infected females tested positive on the PCR test, and that is because we were using an unconventional method to run the tests, based on what we knew about these particular exposures. All three of the females tested postive on the Elisa and Western blot tests. We had representatives from Roche Diagnostics at our lab assisting us, and later that year Healthline Labs was awarded the Roche Diagnostics Molecular Biology Lab of the Year award for the work we did on this case. Based in large part on the research done at Healthline, the FDA approved the Roche 1.5 kit in May of 2005, a test that had already been in use all over the world. The FDA is notoriously slow in approving new tests.

I have linked to an old article from It talks about a perormer being told she was negative one day, and positive the next. The person being quoted in this article asks, “How can she be negaive on Tuesday and on the same test be positive two days later?” That is because it was not the same test. The PCR test showed “Not Detected” but it was the ELISA test that later showed positive. As is usual in the porn indutry, a whole lot of people who knew very little if nothing at all about the situation were putting this crap out there.

Again, this is a VERY short rehashing of some very complicated events. There are thousands of details that could make this article a mile long, but the gist is, the PCR did not work in 2004, and with performers continuing to go to Brazil, Thailand, and who knows where else, it could very well happen again.

Healthline Labs did not charge AIM for any of the tests done on the Q-List performers. I personally paid for every single q-list test out of my own pocket, not because I a some super compasionate person, but because performers were balking at the additional costs and it was something that just had to be done. AVN later wrote an article that said, “Dozens of companies poured thousands of dollars into AIM.” This is completely false. I showed this article to the bookeeper at AIM, she looked at me and said, “Thats news to me.”