Sex work

Globally, female sex workers are 13.5% more likely to be living with HIV than other women of reproductive age; in Asia, female sex workers are almost 30% more likely to be living with HIV.

Modelling studies indicate that decriminalising sex work could lead to a 46% reduction in new HIV infections in sex workers over 10 years; eliminating sexual violence against sex workers could lead to a 20% reduction in new HIV infections.

WHO supports countries to address these structural barriers and ensure sex workers’ human rights as well as implementing a comprehensive package of HIV and health services for sex workers through community lead approaches.

Priority health interventions targeting prevention of sexual transmission of HIV and other STIs among sex workers include:

Health interventions

- Condom programming
- Harm reduction interventions for those that inject drugs
- Behavioural interventions
- HIV testing and counselling
- HIV treatment and care + PrEP
- Prevention and management of viral Hep, TB and mental health conditions
- Sexual and reproductive health interventions

Structural interventions

- Supportive legislation, policy and funding
- Addressing stigma and discrimination
- Community empowerment
- Addressing violence

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