Sex Workers, HIV and Harm Reduction

Jun 24, 2014
Editorial
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We welcome the Guardian’s praise for Lord Fowler (Editorial, 10 June), who has been a strong advocate for harm reduction and evidence-led policy on HIV prevention. In the recently published findings of a survey he conducted, he describes the swelling tide of prejudice against sex workers.

A young woman sex worker on the street: stigma makes sex workers less likely to access sexual health services. Photograph: Janine Wiedel Photolibrary / Ala/Alamy

A young woman sex worker on the street: stigma makes sex workers less likely to access sexual health services. Photograph: Janine Wiedel Photolibrary / Ala/Alamy

Although there is strong evidence that there is a high level of awareness of sexual health and safer-sex practices among sex workers, he is right to point out that stigma and criminalisation of sex workers forces them to work secretively, making them less likely to access sexual health services. Criminalising either sex workers or their clients, as in Sweden, only serves to drive sex workers underground and distance them from sexual health services. In Sweden, promotion of harm-reduction and safer sex is seen to encourage sex work.

An independent examination of the laws in the UK governing the sale of sex must focus on harm-reduction and be based on evidence, rather than ideology.
Alex Feis-Bryce Director of services, National Ugly MugsJane Pitcher Board academic rep, UK Network of Sex Work ProjectsMichelle Stoops Operational manager, Liverpool Community HealthKathryn Talboys Chief executive, Renaissance at Drugline LancashireHayley Speed Project director, Men’s RoomDr Teela Sanders Reader in sociology, University of Leeds

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Ernest Greene
Ernest Greene
6 years ago

Been saying this since 1998. All prohibitions against sex commerce lead to greater risk for sex workers and for the public.

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