Decriminalize Sex Work and Stop the Spread of HIV

ana Blog, criminilization, safer sex, sex work

By The MindShift

At this year’s International AIDS Conference, held in Melbourne Australia, sex work was a hot topic. This open discussion of sex work in relation to HIV/AIDS and human rights was long overdue, as sex workers felt ignored at the same conference held in the US last year.

(Photo by Melissa Gira Grant)

This year great minds from all over the globe gathered, including Pion, a sex worker serving organization from Norway, and The Scarlet Alliance from Australia. We, at HIV Community Link, were excited to see a strong sex worker presence, and were very glad to hear the loud cry for decriminalization of sex work in order to prevent further spread of HIV. In their paper titled “Global Epidemiology of HIV Among Female Sex Workers: Influence of Structural Determinant”, Boily et all (2014) state that:

“Decriminalization of sex work would have the greatest effect on the course of HIV epidemics across all settings, averting 33–46% of HIV infections in the next decade.” (p. 1)

This paper was presented as this year’s International AIDS Conference to welcoming ears. The call for Decriminalization has been supported by both The World Health Organization and by the United Nation who argues that:

“States should move away from criminalising sex work or activities associated with it.
Decriminalization of sex work should include removing criminal laws and penalties
for purchase and sale of sex, management of sex workers and brothels, and other activities related to sex work”
(Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, 2012, p.6).

With enough credible bodies supporting decriminalization, it is surprising to see Canada going in the opposite direction and in fact criminalizing sex work to a greater degree than ever before. This leads one to ask, when will Canada catch up with the rest of the world and decriminalize sex work?