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Taurus Jerelds from MPOWERR Explains Testing Importance in the Adult Industry

SWCEO Interviews Taurus Jerelds

Blog Post Written By: MelRose Michaels

 

MelRose Michaels sat down with Taurus Jerelds from MPOWERR Health and Wellness of Atlanta in a recent Twitter Space to discuss the importance of testing protocols in adult entertainment and how to access them as an adult creator. The following blog is an excerpt from that interview.


Originally from Orlando, Florida, Taurus attended Florida A&M University In Tallahassee, FL - affectionately known to many as FAMU, pronounced-(Fam-U) and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Management and later earning a Master of Public Health Degree in Public Health & Epidemiology. Taurus started his career in public health working for a local nonprofit, which later transitioned into a position as a Sexual Health Educator, HIV tester, & Counselor with the Student Health Services clinic on FAMU’s Campus. Taurus is also an HIV TESTER trainer for the State of Florida Department of Health. With educational, professional knowledge and experience of over 10-20 years in infectious disease investigation, Taurus has worked in both Florida and Georgia on the local, state, and federal levels in public health efforts surrounding STIs, HIV, infectious diseases, and other chronic healthcare disparity efforts in underserved communities. 


MPOWERR Atlanta is a non-profit healthcare organization that offers testing and treatment for performers working in the PASS system. A full panel test costs $125, but those with insurance may pay as little as $50. Currently, MPOWERR offers a PASS panel with a 48-hour turnaround, though at substantially less cost than other adult industry labs.


Cassie Curses and MelRose Michaels enjoying breakfast while sitting at a black circle table with two chairs outside on a rooftop balcony with the city and blue sky in the background. They are wearing lingerie with open front white robes.

MelRose Michaels: Taurus, can you start by giving us some background about MPOWERR for those who might not be familiar with it?


Taurus Jerelds: MPOWERR began as a community service organization focused initially on men's health but has since expanded to serve a broader demographic. Our mission has always been to enhance sexual health awareness and behaviors. After moving to Atlanta, I collaborated with the Fulton County Department of Health under a CDC grant, which eventually helped transform MPOWERR into the healthcare clinic it is today.


Post-COVID, MPOWERR has evolved significantly. Originally, while working under the CDC grant, I dreamt of transforming MPOWERR into a non-profit healthcare organization with a strong focus on servicing sex workers. Now, we are a PASS-certified testing facility committed to providing affordable and accessible health services with a particular focus on sexual health. Our aim has never been just about making money but about filling a crucial need in public health and ensuring that those who need our services the most can access them.


We started by providing standard talent testing services, but my vision was to go beyond that—to achieve PASS certification and truly tailor our services to the needs of the industry and those we serve. This approach stems from a deep-seated belief in public health and a desire to solve problems before people even realize they exist, especially in providing affordable access to sexual health screenings. This journey has been a roller coaster, but our mission remains clear: to improve public health accessibly and sustainably.


MelRose Michaels: Could you explain the PASS system to those unfamiliar with it?


Taurus Jerelds: PASS (Performer Availability Screening Services) is a monitoring system that ensures individuals in the adult industry are tested regularly. Based on testing results, it manages clear or unclear work status, helping to minimize infection spread. It operates independently but follows a strict protocol to ensure the health and safety of performers.


MelRose Michaels: That’s fantastic. Taurus, I think most creators listening today will know this, but for the new creators who possibly don't, can you explain why regular testing is just crucial in the adult industry?


Taurus Jerelds: Regular testing is vitally important whether you're testing with a PASS-certified facility or without a PASS-certified facility. Outside of a PASS-certified facility, we want to make sure that you are at least getting tested somewhere so that you know your status. In between utilizing the third of the facilities that are industry standard facilities because we don't want anybody to be untested partaking in sexual activity that could continue to spread infection from an epidemiological standpoint. So whether you're testing within the facility within a PASS-certified facility, outside of a past certified facility, or just with a regular care provider, we want to make sure that you're tested, period, so that we can minimize or stop the spread of infections as they happen or before they happen.


Testing within a past certified facility is what helps us manage that in the performer panel or in the performer pool, which is an extension of what we have from a CDC or governmental epidemiological model. Each state has a disease surveillance or disease monitoring program and software that helps keep track of infections and risk of exposure. Who's been put at risk, who could have been infected by somebody who did not know their status, whether it's HIV, syphilis, or any STI. PASS operates as an extension of that, solely run on its own to show an autonomous and responsible approach to handling STIs within the adult filming industry.


MelRose Michaels: What's the standard testing protocol for performers within the porn industry?


Taurus Jerelds: The standard is to follow a PASS-certified testing protocol, which includes testing for all infections listed on the PASS website. The testing panel is valid for 7 to 14 days. Extending this to 30 days is generally considered too long, especially when multiple sexual partners are involved between tests.


The key here is that once you engage in any sexual activity after your initial test, the results are essentially invalidated because there's no way to verify what others have done since they were last tested. This is why we adhere strictly to the 7 to 14-day testing window. It helps us continue to monitor and protect the health and safety of everyone involved in adult film production. It's crucial that everyone follows these guidelines so we can maintain a safe environment for all participants.


MelRose Michaels: For creators like me in rural areas, your remote testing has been a game-changer. Can you explain how this program works?


Taurus Jerelds: Certainly! Our remote testing program was initially a pilot to see if we could provide testing for people in locations without nearby facilities. It involves a mail-order testing kit, which includes all necessary swabs since most local labs don't stock them. We send instructions via video call to ensure proper specimen collection. Our team oversees the process to ensure accuracy, sending samples to a lab—either LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics.


Once collected, the samples are sealed and transported to the lab, where the necessary blood and urine tests are completed. Results are typically available within 24 to 72 hours, depending on lab processing times. We aim to reduce this timeframe by establishing our own high-complexity laboratory for more immediate results.


This remote system allows performers to be tested before traveling to a shoot, ensuring they arrive ready to work without delays. It's designed to be efficient and reliable, accommodating the unique needs of those in the industry, particularly in remote or underserved areas.


MelRose Michaels: This accessibility has truly set MPOWERR apart for me, making testing feasible despite my location. The quick turnaround time has been crucial.


Taurus Jerelds: We've noticed faster results in places like Las Vegas and are working to standardize this efficiency across the US. Each state's differing health laws pose challenges, particularly in New York and New Jersey, but we're committed to navigating these to extend our reach. Our testing is PASS certified, ensuring its acceptance across major production companies and by individual creators, which underscores our commitment to providing reliable health services to the community.


MelRose Michaels: Switching gears a bit, can you discuss the challenges of keeping up with health regulations and ensuring compliance?


Taurus Jerelds: Our primary responsibility is keeping up with health regulations, which involves closely monitoring the legal and administrative guidelines that govern healthcare facilities. We strictly adhere to HIPAA regulations, meaning we only release test results or health information with explicit written consent from the performer. This ensures privacy and compliance.


We manage compliance through systems like PASS, where performers' clearance statuses are updated, allowing others within the system to verify their status directly. Beyond just testing, our facility operates as a full healthcare clinic offering daily STI testing and treatment, as well as general healthcare services. We emphasize creating a safe and supportive environment for everyone.


MelRose Michaels: It's impressive how comprehensive your services are, not just as a testing facility but as a full healthcare provider.


Taurus Jerelds: Absolutely. We aim to provide extensive support beyond basic testing by offering services that cater to overall health and well-being. Our approach is not about competition or profit but about enhancing community health and safety. We educate our clients on various health needs in a supportive, nonjudgmental way. This commitment to care is foundational to MPOWERR and drives everything we do.


MelRose Michaels: What are your thoughts on the future of health and safety in the adult industry?


Taurus Jerelds: The industry is constantly evolving, and while I’m optimistic, I am also realistic about the challenges we face. Handling collaborations and business interactions with thoroughness and responsibility from the start is crucial. MPOWERR aims to provide free testing nationwide, ensuring everyone can access necessary health services without financial barriers.


MelRose Michaels: Before we conclude, is there anything else you'd like to add or emphasize to our listeners?


Taurus Jerelds: I think it’s vital for everyone, especially new performers, to educate themselves about sexual health. Understanding your body and recognizing symptoms early on can greatly impact your health and safety. We aim to provide not just testing but comprehensive health education to empower individuals in their personal and professional lives.


MelRose Michaels: Taurus, thank you so much for sharing your insights and the work MPOWERR is doing. Your efforts are making a significant impact on the community.


Taurus Jerelds: Thank you for having me. It’s been great discussing these important issues with you.

 

Some parts of the above interview have been condensed or edited for clarity. Listen to the entire Twitter space for the full interview.


Follow MPOWERR on Instagram and Twitter

Find out more at https://mpowerrhwa.org/


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the interview are those of the guest speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SexWorkCEO or MelRose Michaels. Anything said or written is of their opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone else.



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