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.
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 Mugs, Jane Pitcher Board academic rep, UK Network of Sex Work Projects, Michelle Stoops Operational manager, Liverpool Community Health, Kathryn Talboys Chief executive, Renaissance at Drugline Lancashire, Hayley Speed Project director, Men’s Room, Dr Teela Sanders Reader in sociology, University of Leeds