Study reveals decriminalization of sex work will reduce global HIV infections significantly
Jul 22, 2014 03:18 PM EDT
A groundbreaking paper presented at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia on Tuesday morning has concluded that HIV infections all over the world could be reduced should governments decide to decriminalize sex work. The study which was conducted by researches on female sex workers in Canada, India and Kenya deemed that HIV infections could be reduced by 33% to 46% in the countries of the study's subjects.
Associate professor of medicine Kate Shannon at the University of British Columbia, who is the lead author of the study, said in the report, "Across all settings, decriminalization of sex work could have the largest impact on the HIV epidemic among sex workers over just 10 years. Governments and policymakers can no longer ignore the evidence."
Shannon and her group's study was the first in a series of papers by Lancet to be presented at the said conference, the Washington Post reported. According to the news outlet, the studies highlighted the struggles faced by sex workers, who have the highest exposure to the risks of HIV infection, when efforts are done to address the HIV epidemic.
The World Health Organization reported this month that men who have sex with men, transgender people, people who inject drugs, prisoners, aside from sex workers, are the five high-risk groups that account for around half of all new HIV infections globally. Female sex workers are 14 times likely to get infected with HIV as compared to other women, and trasngender women have a much greater risk at 50 times to get contracted with HIV.
Sienna Baskin, spokeswoman for the Sex Workers Project in New York, has said that criminalization of sex work is actually detrimental to the state of public health. She said, "Criminalization can have a direct impact on access to health care. Treatment, such as antiretroviral therapy, requires stability and consistency. Being at risk for criminalization disrupts this."