The Impact of Non-rights Based HIV Programming For Sex Workers Around the World

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Sex workers constitute a key population affected by HIV, with multiple factors contributing to their vulnerability. Around the world, HIV programming falls short of taking these factors into account and actively working towards their reduction. Sex workers are put at risk of exposure to HIV by criminalisation; violence; unsafe working conditions; violations of their human rights; stigma, discrimination and social marginalisation; drug and alcohol use; unequal access to appropriate health services; minimal access to HIV prevention tools (such as safe sex supplies and safer injecting equipment); barriers to negotiation of safe sex with clients; offers of higher fees for unprotected sex; and an absence of HIV-related information targeted at sex workers, due to insufficient funding for rights-based and sex worker led programming.  This Briefing Paper discusses these in detail.

Contents include:

  • Introduction
  • Effects of Criminalisation
  • Deterrents to Accessing HIV Services
    • Stigma dn Moral Judgment
    • Practical Barriers
    • Lack of Health Insurance
    • Lack of Confidentiality
    • Repressive Measures Impacts Sex Workers who Use Drugs
    • Repressive Measures impacting HIV-Positive Sex Workers
  • Mandatory Testing
    • Mandatory Testing as Enforced by Police
    • Mandatory Testing as a Condition of Engagement in Sex Work
  • Line Testing
  • 100% Condom Use Programmes
  • Moving to Rights-Based Approaches in HIV Programming
  • Funding Issues
  • Recommendations

Strategies currently in place in many countries to protect sex workers (and/or the general public) from HIV are counterproductive in that, besides failing to take into account sex workers’ human rights, they actually put sex workers’ health at risk. Prime examples are mandatory and coercive testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as line testing and ‘100% Condom Use Programmes’. This resource is useful for organisations that want to learn about the impact of various kinds of HIV prevention and treatment services. 

You can download this 16-page PDF above. This resource is in English.