WHO releases guidelines for protecting sex workers from HIV

13.12.2012 - 14:32

The World Health Organisation (WHO) released new guidelines providing technical recommendations on effective interventions for the prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among sex workers and their clients.

The guidelines were developed in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and are directed, in particular, to national public health officials and managers of HIV/AIDS and STI programmes, nongovernmental organizations and health workers.

The document recommended, among others, decriminalisation of sex work and elimination of the unjust application of non-criminal laws and regulations against sex workers by all countries, as well as establishment of antidiscrimination and other rights-respecting laws to protect against violations of rights faced by sex workers.

The United Nations organisation concluded that while sex workers in many places were highly vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, the violence against them was a risk factor for HIV which needed to be prevented and addressed in partnership with the workers themselves.

In WHO’s opinion, effective interventions targeting sex workers were important components of comprehensive HIV and STI prevention strategies.

A revision of the guidelines is planned for 2016, while plans for their quality evaluation, usefulness and impact will be developed beforehand.