“Globally, female sex workers are 13.5% more likely to be living with HIV than other women of reproductive age; in Asia, female sex workers are almost 30% more likely to be living with HIV.
Modelling studies indicate that decriminalising sex work could lead to a 46% reduction in new HIV infections in sex workers over 10 years; eliminating sexual violence against sex workers could lead to a 20% reduction in new HIV infections.” – World Health Organisation
I would highly recommend policy makers, health programmers, health service providers and human rights defenders to become familiar with the WHO’s publications on sex workers. It’s resources on the health of key populations are immensely well-researched and offer a clear approach to ensuring sex workers’ health and safety.
The World Health Organisation is the global authority on health. Through the WHO, UN member states do research on effective health interventions and decide on international health policy.
One of the WHO’s priority areas is HIV prevention and treatment. In the global HIV response, it has identified five ‘key populations’: men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, people in prisons, transgender people and sex workers.
40-50% of all new HIV infections among adults worldwide occur among people from these key populations and their partners. The WHO states that “without addressing the needs of key populations, a sustainable HIV response will not be achieved.”
It is important to note that, based on its extensive research, the organisation urges countries to fully decriminalise sex work.
There’s two sets of publications I would like to highlight:
Consolidated Guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations
Policy Brief (8page introduction and summary of the ful, updated guidelines)
The Sex Worker Implementation Tool (2013) (SWIT)
In 2013, the WHO published this tool to offer practical advice on implementing HIV and STI programmes for sex workers. It is designed for use by governments/policy makers, HIV programmers and health service providers. The full name of this resource is Implementing comprehensive HIV/STI programmes with sex workers: practical approaches from collaborative interventions. It is usually referred to as the SWIT.
The WHO states: “Topics covered in the tool include approaches and principles to building programmes that are led by the sex worker community such as community empowerment, addressing violence against sex workers, and community-led services; they include how to implement the recommended condom and lubricant programming, and other crucial health-care interventions for HIV prevention, treatment and care; and they include suggestions on how to manage programmes and build the capacity of sex worker organizations. The tool contains examples of good practice from around the world that may support efforts in planning programmes and services”