Sex workers, along with other key affected populations (KAPs) such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and people who inject drugs (PWID), are often considered at risk of HIV. UNAIDS defines sex workers as: Female, male and transgender adults and young people who receive money or goods in exchange for sexual services, either regularly or occasionally. Sex work varies between and within countries and communities. Sex work may vary in the degree to which it is more or less “formal” or organized, and in the degree to which it is distinct from other social and sexual relationships and types of sexual-economic exchange. 1 Although sex workers are one of the groups most affected by HIV, they are also one of the groups most likely to respond well to HIV prevention campaigns. Proof of this can be seen in countries such as Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, India and Thailand, where reductions in national HIV prevalence have been helped by initiatives targeting sex workers and their clients. – See more at: http://www.avert.org/sex-workers-and-hivaids.htm#sthash.qA4pe8Al.dpuf
Social and legal factors
Sex workers are often stigmatised, marginalised and criminalised by the societies in which they live, and in various ways, these factors can contribute to their vulnerability to HIV.
Even though sex work is at least partially legal in many countries, the law rarely protects sex workers. Around the world, there is a severe lack of legislation and policies protecting sex workers who may be at risk of violence from both state and non-state actors such as law enforcement, partners, family members and their clients. 11
For example, a sex worker who is raped will generally have little hope of bringing charges against their attacker. The lack of protection in such cases leaves sex workers open to abuse, violence and rape, creating an environment, which can facilitate HIV transmission. 12
Non-governmental organisations report that almost two thirds of the countries they work in have laws that make it difficult for them to work with sex workers. 13 In some countries, police use the possession of condoms as evidence that somebody is involved in sex work, further impeding sex workers’ efforts to protect themselves.
– See more at: http://www.avert.org/sex-workers-and-hivaids.htm#sthash.qA4pe8Al.dpuf