Health at the Dirty End of Business

Sex work is still considered as illegal in most parts of the world. In fact, it is criminalized in more than 110 countries, as per HIV Gaps. Because of this, sex workers are often marginalized and abused. They also lack access to proper health care system, despite the need for a safer sex worker health. For instance, data show that only 22.5 percent of female prostitutes in Africa are subjected to programs that aim to curb HIV/AIDS.

Health Care Needs

One of the most important health care essential of sex workers is access to a reliable health care system. This covers their need for treatment and prevention for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV. More so, it should be able to cover the health care necessities of their children. According to the National Commission for Women, “no woman suffers more discrimination in access to services, whether for health care, fertility regulations or safe abortions as much as women in sex work.”

Aside from the stigma, sex workers are usually blamed for the AIDS epidemic. However, we should take into consideration that promiscuous men are the ones who infect and spread the disease. Holding these prostitutes responsible for such spate illustrates the society’s discrimination towards them.

Sex workers should also be protected from sexual violence and physical abuse while at work. Prostitutes that ply in brothels or even on the streets are vulnerable to attacks or rape, while those controlled by pimps often experiences physical abuse in keeping their leash.

All women, regardless of social status, should be given a choice of family planning methods in forestalling unwanted pregnancies. But the problem with sex work is that prostitutes are deprived of such alternatives, making them at risk with pregnancy.

There are also cases where pregnant sex workers still carry on with the sex trade. This makes both of them prone to complications and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If they feel that there’s not much of a choice left, they undergo an abortion.

Furthermore, sex workers face substance abuse problems. In some countries, prostitutes inject drugs or share needles when using drugs. This kind of habit causes HIV infection, aside from potential drug dependency.

The ultimate way of ensuring that sex workers are covered by a reliable health care system is to include and get them involved in designing, implementing or evaluating such program.