Coalition chair: “Sex workers are almost invariably women who have suffered a catastrophic loss of income because of a partner who refuses child support or some similar difficulty. These women need assistance and understanding, not condemnation and criminalization.”
Kyiv (UBO) – As a part of meeting its responsibility to take the lead in formulating policies and procedures to help state entities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) deal with the continuing prevalence of high levels of HIV-infection, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) on Dec. 12, 2012 released new guidelines titled ‘Prevention and Treatment of HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections for Sex Workers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries’. One of the most important – and in Ukraine most controversial – recommendations is that countries should work towards decriminalizing sex work.
In its announcement of the new guidelines, WHO notes that violence against sex workers is a risk factor for HIV and “must be prevented and addressed in partnership with sex workers and sex worker-led organizations.” WHO recommends that “health services should be made available, accessible and acceptable to sex workers based on the principles of avoidance of stigma, non-discrimination and the right to health.”
Olena Davis, chairperson of the All-Ukrainian Coalition of HIV-service Organizations, said of the new WHO guidelines: “We have studied the new guidelines and were greatly encouraged by the fact that they were obviously drafted with great sensitivity and understanding of the problems that HIV-service organizations in this country and around the world face on a daily basis.”
Among the WHO recommended interventions for sex workers are: the promotion of correct and consistent condom use; offering sex workers HIV testing and counselling; offering periodic screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections to female sex workers: initiating HIV-positive sex workers on antiretroviral treatment; and using WHO recommendations on harm reduction for sex workers who inject drugs.
Davis added: “Sex workers are almost invariably women who have suffered a catastrophic loss of income because of a partner who refuses child support or some similar difficulty. These women need assistance and understanding, not condemnation and criminalization.
“With the help of progressive-minded members of the previous parliament, particularly MP Tatiana Bakhteyeva, chair of the Rada health committee, we have made some progress on bringing law related to HIV-AIDS into compliance with internationally accepted standards of best practice. However, we still have a very long way to go.
“That is why we believe advocacy of Ukrainian laws and regulations that track the new WHO guidelines should be an important goal for the entire HIV-AIDS community in the months and years ahead.”
Below is a summary of the new WHO Good Practice Guidelines:
1. All countries should work toward decriminalization of sex work and elimination of the unjust application of non-criminal laws and regulations against sex workers.
2. Governments should establish antidiscrimination and other rights-respecting laws to protect against discrimination and violence, and other violations of rights faced by sex workers in order to realize their human rights and reduce their vulnerability to HIV infection and the impact of AIDS. Antidiscrimination laws and regulations should guarantee sex workers’ right to social, health and financial services.
3. Health services should be made available, accessible and acceptable to sex workers based on the principles of avoidance of stigma, non-discrimination and the right to health.
4. Violence against sex workers is a risk factor for HIV and must be prevented and addressed in partnership with sex workers and sex worker led organizations.
To access the complete text of the Policy Brief on Prevention and Treatment of HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections for Sex Workers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, link here:
The Coalition, established in March 2004 in response to the need to strengthen the role of civil society in the field of HIV/AIDS, is a non-governmental nationwide organization that brings together 85 organizations from 25 regions of Ukraine, working in harm reduction, primary and secondary HIV prevention, and care and support for people living with HIV. Learn more about the Coalition at: http://www.hiv.org.ua/maininfo/maininfo
Source – Ukraine Business Online