July 23, 2014

Decriminalization of sex work could reduce HIV infections

Written by Caelainn Hogan, The Washington Post

The decriminalization of sex work could significantly decrease global HIV infections among female sex workers, leading to a reduction of at least a third in three countries examined by researchers, according to a new study.

In a paper presented Tuesday morning at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, researchers who studied HIV among female sex workers in Canada, India and Kenya concluded that infections could be reduced by 33 to 46 percent in those countries.

“Across all settings, decriminalization of sex work could have the largest impact on the HIV epidemic among sex workers over just 10 years,” said Kate Shannon, an associate professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia and the lead author of the study. “Governments and policymakers can no longer ignore the evidence.”

The study was the first in a series of papers by the Lancet to be presented at the global conference. The studies urge that any efforts to address the HIV epidemic put the challenges faced by sex workers at the forefront.

Five high-risk groups — men who have sex with men, transgender people, people who inject drugs, prisoners, and sex workers — account for about half of all new HIV infections worldwide, the World Health Organization reported this month. Female sex workers are 14 times as likely to have HIV as other women, according to WHO, with transgender women almost 50 times as likely to have HIV as other adults…

Read the full article on The Washington Post here.