Prevention and Treatment of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections for Sex Workers in Low- and Middle-income Countries

Recommendations for a public health approach

No. of pages: 52

Publication date: 2012

Author: WHO, UNFPA, UNAIDS, NSWP

ISBN: 978 92 4 150474 4

Sex workers in many places are highly vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections due to multiple factors, including large numbers of sex partners, unsafe working conditions and barriers to the negotiation of consistent condom use. Moreover, sex workers often have little control over these factors because of social marginalization and criminalized work environments. Alcohol, drug use and violence in some settings may further exacerbate their vulnerability and risk. 
Acquisition of HIV and other STIs are important occupational hazards of sex work. Clients can infect sex workers who may transmit infection to other clients and from them to their sex partners. Preventing infection among sex workers thus has the potential to both improve the health of individual sex workers as well as to slow HIV and STI transmission among wider populations. Early interventions in countries as diverse as Brazil, India, Kenya and Thailand have succeeded reducing STI transmission in sex work by increasing condom use, leading to improved health outcomes for sex workers and rapid control of HIV and STI epidemics.