This discussion paper was developed for the for the 1st Asia and the Pacific Regional Consultation on HIV and Sex Work, 12 – 15 October 2010. Among its recommendations are
1. A human rights based approach should be applied to any HIV program targeting sex workers and their clients. The illegality of sex work in most counties in the region creates an environment that facilitates harassment and hinders the delivery of prevention and care. Programs must build the capacity of sex workers to engage in advocacy with policy makers to ensure protection of their fundamental rights to safe work, fair wages, reasonable working hours, quality health and social
2. The practice of mandatory or coercive STI and HIV testing and lack of confidentiality in programs targeting sex workers in some countries violates human rights. Sex workers in different countries are required to carry a health card, which provides law enforcement officers with additional ‘justification’ to harass and abuse them. Such approaches often make sex workers feel they are being targeted and punished and do not facilitate a sense of empowerment or partnership. The ethical principles of voluntarism and confidentiality should be incorporated into the design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of all sexual and reproductive health and HIV programs.
Thematic Task Team on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights