Due to the nature of their work, female sex workers are more susceptible to contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV in contrast to other women. This is because they are having sexual intercourse with various people on different occasions. Some of their clients would even insist to do it without condoms.
Data shows that prostitutes are also hooked to drugs. Because of this, their addiction will compel them to engage in unprotected sex in return for money or drugs. One should take care of themselves, even if they are in this line of work. Good thing that there are Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) that are actively working women’s health for safety.
During the 19th International AIDS Conference, researchers and health organisations discussed their concerns on the increasing number of reported cases of HIV and AIDS. In fact, the most vulnerable to sex-related diseases are female sex workers. Statistics show that they are 14 times more at risk of having HIV compared with other women.
Sex workers from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, and Guyana are reported to have a high transmission rate of HIV.
Decriminalisation of Sex Work
According to the Canadian Women’s Health Network, decriminalising prostitution is good for the health of sex workers. As a matter of fact, the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that sex workers who peddle themselves on streets run into “some of the worst health outcomes in our society.” These include trauma, acquiring STIs and HIV, and drug-related injuries. Sex workers will toil in bawdy houses or brothels only if prostitution will be allowed in the country. With this, they can say no to violent clients who want to engage in unprotected sex.
In countries such as Cameroon, prostitutes face social stigma because of their work. Female sex workers and homosexuals do not receive much of the health benefits in combatting HIV and other STIs. Moreover, prostitutes in underdeveloped and developing countries do not have the proper counselling in raising awareness on how they can protect themselves from STIs and HIV.
Protecting Women’s Health
Sex workers need more than condoms and brothels, according to The Conversation. If the world is serious in protecting the health of sex workers, there have to be interventions that will specifically deal with their health needs. For instance, the United Kingdom has the Open Doors project in London. Sex workers who will visit the site will be provided with an array of clinical and social services. Aside from a cup of tea, they will receive condoms and/or advices of lawyers and counsellors.
Female sex workers are also victims of violence. In addressing this, they will need people who will support them in coping up with the physical and emotional stresses brought by this savagery.