HIV And Sex WorkersBeing a sex worker increases your risk of becoming infected or transmitting the HIV virus as well as other sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Sex workers are people (both male and female) who trade sex for money, drugs, food, or shelter.

Sex work crosses many socioeconomic levels:

  • High end escorts
  • Massage parlors
  • Adult film industry
  • Exotic dancers
  • In Nevada state regulated prostitutes
  • Street walkers (men, women, transgender who use sex to survive)

Because sex workers are at a higher risk for infection of HVI and other STIs it has become critical for public health to reach them. Unaware of their HIV status, sex workers can not only damage their own health but pass the virus on to others.

 

The Challenges Of Prevention

 

Lack of data

The lack of data concerning sex workers is a major challenge when it comes to prevention.

Socioeconomic factors

A majority of sex workers face a lack of access to healthcare and other social services, as well as discrimination and poverty, which creates obstacles in receiving HIV prevention and other things.

Available research shows that sex workers may have a history of:

  • Homelessness
  • Substance abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Mental health issues
  • Incarceration

 

The Link Between Drug And Alcohol Use

 

There is a very strong link between sex workers and drug and alcohol use which have been reported as ways to cope with stressful working conditions. Sex workers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol will have poor or impaired judgement making it more difficult for them to negotiate safe sex practices with their client. Workers who exchange sex for drugs have a higher risk for HIV than those who trade sex for money. Typically those who trade sex for drugs often have more clients, use condoms less, and more frequently share needles and other drug paraphernalia.

 

HIV Status

 

In one study it shows that sex workers may not be aware that they have HIV or other STIs or aware of the availability of testing for them. Others, who are aware of testing, may be afraid to have testing done due to a mistrust of health services, loss of income, mental health issues, or their dependency on drugs, they also are more reluctant to get medical care for those reasons.

 

Condom Use Is Undependable

 

There are several factors in play with unreliable condom use among sex workers.

  • Economics they may get paid more for sex with no condom as opposed to with a condom
  • Partner type if they know the client as a steady they may not use a condom as oppose to a new client where they would use a condom
  • Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol may make using a condom difficult
  • Providing assistance with support and technical issues to community based programs with things like handing out condoms, making testing more available, and setting up referral networks
  • The Comprehensive Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Prevention Programs for Health Departments which includes funding for $339 million over a 5 year period to states health departments in areas that include services to those who are sex workers.

 

What Is The CDC Doing?

  • Providing assistance with support and technical issues to community based programs with things like handing out condoms, making testing more available, and setting up referral networks
  • The Comprehensive Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Prevention Programs for Health Departments which includes funding for $339 million over a 5 year period to states health departments in areas that include services to those who are sex workers.