AIDS/HIV | Health

Decriminalization of Sex Work Among Top HIV-Prevention Strategies

The decriminalization of sex work is among one of the most important steps needed in order to curtail the spread of HIV, according to the findings of a group of HIV researchers recently published in The Lancet and presented at the 20th Annual International AIDS Conference. The need to focus on marginalized populations grows as mainstream populations gain increasing access to HIV-preventative measures and drugs to treat the virus, the research explains.

_DSC7194-LThe longer sex work remains illegal, said The Lancet’s editor-in-chief Richard Horton, the longer those involved in the profession will generally go without seeking the same kinds of treatments necessary to ensure their sexual safety.

“Why should we condemn and criminalise the exchange of money for sex,” He asked. “[E]specially if the severely adverse conditions we create for such exchange hurt women and men and often fatally so?”

In a series of seven studies delving into the role sex work plays in the proliferation of the HIV virus within a country, researchers expressed their concern for sex working individuals. Given the nature of their work, Horton explained, sex workers are at risk of becoming a group for reintroducing HIV back into the general population, in spite of public health initiatives.

Of particular importance, according to Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist Stefan Baral, are male sex workers, who are woefully misunderstood by most HIV-prevention programs.

"When you think of a sex worker, the most common picture that comes to mind is a female sex worker," he elaborated. "Often what’s happened is that people want to oversimplify and generalize the epidemic. [W]e end up in a dynamic where we know very little about male sex workers."


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  1. Just a wild guess who will "benefit" from legalizing male prostitution and who will "not". Here's a hint....the poor and brown/black people will likely be on the wrong end. And who do you think will be buying these people? modern day slave trade here we come

    Posted by: FakeOutrage | Jul 23, 2014 7:46:35 PM

  2. This is an extremely thoughtful and compassionate idea for an approach. Sex is so good for people that all of it that is voluntary, no matter how it's done, or with whom merits celebration, not criminalization. Just such an attitude about sex would cure many problems in individual people and whole cultures alike.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jul 24, 2014 1:04:46 AM

  3. @FakeOutrage : generally, unlike moralists, physicians only get credit when they actually manage to solve a real-world problem.

    Posted by: Bill | Jul 24, 2014 3:21:59 AM


    According to you view, Adam4Adam is already a slave market.

    Posted by: Qj201 | Jul 24, 2014 7:40:36 AM

  5. Sorry but having to pay someone to have sex with you is never good for the person. Intimacy cannot be bought and sold and it's what so many gay men desperately need. Sure, it sounds ideal, but the reality that someone is only willing to touch you if you pay them is sad on multiple levels. Of course, no one wants to actually deal with this small point.

    Posted by: FakeOutrage | Jul 24, 2014 10:32:59 AM

  6. Meanwhile, in Canada, the Conservative government is rushing a bill to ban the purchase of sexual services, while attempting to partially restore restrictions on brothels, solicitation, and living off of the avails of prostitution that were struck down in R. v. Bedford. It's expected that some provisions of the new anti-prostitution bill will eventually be struck down by the Supreme Court in a similar case, but the Conservative Party will be campaigning as defenders of women in the 2015 election. Ministers have been doing their best to pretend that male sex workers don't exist.

    Posted by: Gary | Jul 24, 2014 11:40:42 AM

  7. Canada's Conservative government has been doing their best to pretend that 39% is a majority. (To be fair, their predecessors did the same).

    Canada does not have a legitimate government. Electoral change, in the style of what Australia did, is required.

    As to sex work, FakeOutrage ought to learn a bit about gay history. The relationship between hustlers and gay men has a different, and friendlier history than the tale told about straight sex work.

    FakeOutrage also ought to have even the slightest compassion for people, who for whatever reason (often medical conditions or disfigurement) cannot find someone to have sex with them, without payment.

    Posted by: Randy | Jul 24, 2014 2:12:41 PM

  8. So the compassion goes to the "whatever reason, medical condition, disfigurement etc" people and not the one who have to have sex with them because they are poor and have no other means to support themselves? Seriously, Randy, you just MADE my point. Do you honestly think that if the crowd you just described that has to pay for sex can't find someone to have sex with on their own that the people they pay are any less inclined to want to? lets not feel sorry for the poor (again, often minority, young) people but for the "john" ie. they guys who pay. Poor them, otherwise what hot guy that would otherwise be out of their league would they get? Nobody pays for sex with people on their own physical level.

    Posted by: FakeOutrage | Jul 24, 2014 3:28:09 PM

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