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Note: This report has been updated, following agreement with UNAIDS in January 2012 to revisions in the document.  

This resource was officially launched in December 2011 as a separate report from the Advisory Group at the UNAIDS Secretariat in Geneva, during the 29th meeting of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board and has now been integrated into the UNAIDS Guidance Note on HIV and Sex Work as annexes and published by UNAIDS. 

This report reflects the voices and opinions of 140 participants, including resource persons and sex workers, at the first Asia and the Pacific Regional Consultation on HIV and Sex Work, held on October 2010 in Pattaya, Thailand. It covers critical components of the HIV and sex work responses, and four key areas – namely, creating an enabling legal and policy environment, ensuring sexual and reproductive health and rights, eliminating violence against sex workers, and addressing migration and mobility in the context of HIV and sex work.

Sex workers are highly mobile populations, moving both within and accross national boundaries, as either documented or undocumented labour.  However, labour laws rarely, if ever, offer protection and benefits to local or migrant sex workers.  Migration and mobility factors that can significantly increase the vulnerability of sex workers to HIV and sexually transmitted infections, in large part due to their undocumented status including lack of work permits, poor working conditions in some cases, lack of access to health care, occupational health and safety standards, and other forms of labour protection. 

Governments and the United Nations have recognised the need to address the legal and policy barriers and stigma and discrimination faced by sex workers in order to respond to the HIV epidemic.  In many countries, laws, policies and practices against sex workers limit their right to basic social economic rights such as access to education, health care, housing, banking facilities, inheritance, property and legal services.  They may also lack citizenship or legal status, resulting from migration or unfavourable regulations, which can lead to exclusion of sex workers from health services, social programmes and communities.

This letter was sent to Michel Sidibe to request a meeting to address concerns about the Guidance Note on HIV and Sex Work, as well as to build collaboration and address the need for a working group specifically for HIV and Sex Work.

This Guidance Note addresses the urgent need to provide and increase access to HIV programming for sex workers of all genders, HIV positive or negative. The Millennium Development Goals such as girls education, gender equality and poverty reduction, form the background contextual setting for this document. This Guidance Note will assist UN agencies and UNAIDS country programmes to develop sex work and HIV policy and services that are in line with governments commitments to improve their response to HIV/ AIDS, and with the ultimate objective of moving towards Universal Access to comprehensive prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010.