July 23, 2014

Sex workers have health needs too, says reports

On 22 July, IPPF European Network and South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka launched a series of HIV prevention report cards for sex workers at the AIDS 2014 conference in Melbourne, Australia.

The launch was an opportunity to discuss new research and policy recommendations relating to this group at the single biggest global meeting of governments, businesses, charities, scientists and other experts focusing on the HIV pandemic.

The report cards explore the challenges of HIV prevention for sex workers in four countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Russia. Laws that criminalise sex workers’ occupation in these countries make it difficult for them to exercise their human rights, including accessing health services. They are not only disproportionately affected by HIV, but also highly marginalised and subject to discrimination.

Lena Luyckfasseel, IPPF EN’s Director of Programme, said: “these report cards cover the widely recognised vital elements of strong and effective action on HIV prevention for key populations. Each one will be a powerful advocacy tool for national associations working with and for sex workers.”

The cards examine a range of prevention areas, from legal and social context to the availability and accessibility of services, and participation and rights. They uniquely also look at violence faced by sex workers. The cards include quotes from sex workers and interviews with key stakeholders.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka said: “Who has the right to judge? For many sex workers it is a set of circumstances that have led to them to where they are. Turning them away is not an option when it comes to receiving care. I hope the fact cards change people’s attitudes and tackle stigma and discrimination head on.”

The report cards were produced by IPPF EN and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in collaboration with the Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN). They are available for download here. You can read more about the AIDS 2014 conference and IPPF’s activities at the event here.