Bans on Prostitution Puts Sex Workers at Risk

The U.S. government's strict opposition to legalizing prostitution anywhere increases AIDS risks


The recent International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., drew 30,000 people together to discuss the global response to the HIV/AIDS crisis.

The theme was "Turning the Tide Together" and there was much celebration of the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the HIV prevention and treatment it has made possible all over the world.

PEPFAR has delivered millions of dollars of aid annually since its inception, including 6.4 billion dollars in southern Africa alone since 2004.

What needs to be mentioned, however, is the ways in which U.S. AIDS policy inhibits a true spirit of togetherness when it comes to the critical population of sex workers.

Sex workers are some of the people most at risk for HIV, AIDS and violence. But U.S. funding restrictions have worked against them and hurt the people who could most benefit from U.S. foreign aid, the people who, were they to receive services, are best placed to turn the tide of the epidemic.

PEPFAR includes a restriction against funding for any project that advocates for human trafficking or the legalization of prostitution.