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Decriminalizing Sex Work, Ensuring Female Sex Workers’ Access To Health Care Critical To Ending AIDS, Achieving Gender Equality

The Guardian: There’s something holding us back on AIDS: our attitude to sex workers
Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity

“…Female sex workers bear a disproportionate burden of HIV and AIDS, but also have unmet needs such as family planning, safe pregnancy, abortion access, and gender-based violence prevention. The causes of poor health for female sex workers are diverse but structural barriers such as criminalization and systemic human rights violations are common. … [A report by the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)] concludes that decriminalization of sex work is necessary for female sex workers to fully realize their rights and is necessary for an effective global HIV response. However, decriminalization is not a cure-all. National health plans should recognize female sex workers and ensure that health care is available, accessible, and acceptable. … Now is the time to refocus our efforts to achieve gender equality and end the HIV epidemic with female sex workers at the center. We cannot end AIDS or achieve gender equality if female sex workers are left behind” (8/1).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.