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Home > Topics > Health > Pandemic: Facing AIDS > The Sex Industry
Pandemic: Facing AIDS
The Sex Industry

Sex workers who engage in unprotected sex are at great risk of being exposed to HIV. Recent studies conducted by UNAIDS showed that twenty percent of Thai and Indian sex workers are HIV positive. In many countries, the sex industry has been a means of spreading the disease among the workers, their clients and, ultimately, those clients' spouses and newborn children. In response, countries like Thailand have launched national prevention campaigns aimed at promoting condom use and educating the public about the risk of HIV transmission. Condom use has increased dramatically in some areas, and HIV infection rates have dropped accordingly. Still, more education is needed to empower sex workers and encourage safe practices.

For related information about organizations working to stop the spread of AIDS in the sex industry, visit the links below.

120 Wall Street, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10005-3902
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AIDS knows no boundaries, and amfAR's programs have had a global reach since 1986, when the Foundation awarded its first grants to researchers.

In Asia, male and female sex workers and injection drug users were the first communities to be seriously affected by HIV/AIDS in Asia. The epidemic then spread rapidly to sex industry clients and to the sexual partners of both sex workers and injection drug users (IDUs).

The economic upheaval over the past two decades has not helped stop the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout Asia. Its flourishing sex industry, increased injection drug use, vast migration, illiteracy, and socio-economic disparity are all important factors facilitating the spread of HIV.

Asia is expected to be the flashpoint for the global AIDS epidemic in the coming decade. Currently over seven million people in Asia and the Pacific are living with HIV/AIDS. In India, where the number of new infections doubles every 14 months, it is expected that it will overtake South Africa as the nation with the most people living with HIV/AIDS.

amfAR's Global Initiatives program seeks to help health care workers maximize local resources and to facilitate the transfer of proven prevention strategies and public health interventions from developed to developing countries.

For more information, visit the amFAR Web site.


Health GAP
c/o Mobilization Against AIDS International
584 Castro Street, #416
San Francisco, CA 94114
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Health GAP is an organization of U.S.-based AIDS and human rights activists, people living with HIV/AIDS, public health experts, fair trade advocates and concerned individuals who campaign against policies of neglect and avarice that deny treatment to millions and fuel the spread of HIV. It is dedicated to eliminating barriers to global access to affordable life-sustaining medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS as key to a comprehensive strategy to confront and ultimately stop the AIDS pandemic. Health GAP believes that the human right to life and to health must prevail over the pharmaceutical industry's excessive profits and expanding patent rights.

Health GAP campaigns for drug access and the resources necessary to sustain access for people with HIV/AIDS across the globe. The organizations works with allies in the global South and in the G-7 countries to formulate policies that promote access, mobilize grassroots support for those policies, and confront governmental policy makers, the pharmaceutical industry and international agencies when their policies or practices block access.

Health GAP is a project of Mobilization Against AIDS, International.

For more information, visit the Health GAP Web site.


1351 East 74th Street
New York, NY 10021
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ECPAT is a network of organisations and individuals working together for the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography and trafficking of children for sexual purposes. The demand for children for sex has increased dramatically in recent years, partly due to the belief that children are less susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases, and that sex with children is safer. In reality, children are especially vulnerable. They are biologically more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases, infections and injuries.

Children involved in the sex trade face new and potentially fatal dangers in light of the spread of HIV/AIDS. It is estimated that seven thousand young people aged 10-24 are infected with HIV every day. Child prostitutes may pose a greater public health danger than adult prostitutes, because children are weak, vulnerable and uninformed, and not in a position to seek out medical care if they become infected with a sexually transmitted disease. They are an important link in the chain of transmission from the sex sector to the population at large because it involves clients who have unprotected sex with their spouses or others.

In response, ECPAT works to eliminate child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. It seeks to encourage the world community to ensure that children everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights free and secure from all forms of commercial sexual exploitation.

For more information, visit the ECPAT USA Web site, or the ECPAT International Web site.


Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive
P.O. Box 21394
Washington, DC 20009
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The HIPS organization is designed to end the cycle of abuse of sex workers on the streets, to work with them to improve their lives, and to give them tools to pursue a self-determined, independent, and productive way of living.

HIPS originally started as an outreach and referral program from the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). Community representatives and the police recognized a need for services for young male, female, and transgender individuals engaging in various forms of sex for gain on the streets of the District. HIPS staff, board, and volunteers work primarily through harm reduction models to assist street-based sex workers in identifying the skills they need or already have to make healthier life choices for themselves.

HIPS is also in the process of developing a program that will provide HIV testing and counseling on the outreach mobile van that patrols the streets of Washington, DC every weekend.

For more information, visit the HIPS Web site.


International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Suite 302
Washington, DC 20036
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The global mission of UNAIDS is to lead, strengthen and support an expanded response to the AIDS epidemic that will:

  • prevent the spread of HIV
  • provide care and support for those infected and affected by the disease
  • reduce the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV/AIDS
  • alleviate the socioeconomic and human impact of the epidemic.

For more information, visit the International Center for Research on Women Web site.


800 West Chestnut Avenue
Monrovia, CA 91016-3198
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World Vision International is a Christian relief and development organisation working for the well being of all people, especially children.

World Vision has committed itself to the challenge of alleviating the impact of AIDS for two main reasons; because it is the biggest single challenge facing development and because it cares about children. World Vision's HIV/AIDS HOPE Initiative, launched in December 2000, is the organization's global response to alleviate the worldwide impact of HIV/AIDS. This will be achieved through the enhancement and expansion of World Vision programs focused on:

  • Prevention: World Vision works to make a significant contribution to reducing national HIV infection rates. Its prevention efforts concentrate on three groups: 1) children 5 to 15; 2) pregnant and breast-feeding mothers; 3) persons at high risk of infection (truck drivers, miners, sex workers, etc.)
  • Care: World Vision works to improve the lives of children affected by HIV/AIDS, focusing on vulnerable children who have been orphaned by AIDS, are living with the virus, or are otherwise affected by HIV/AIDS.
  • Advocacy: World Vision works with governments and policymakers to urge them to adopt policies and programs that prevent new infections and care for the infected and the affected.

For more information, visit the World Vision Web site.


Learn more about what other organizations are doing to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS within the sex industry.

European Network for HIV/STD Prevention in Prostitution
Europap promotes the health and well-being of sex workers across Europe by advocating respect and rights for all sex workers, by supporting high-quality accessible health care, and by lobbying for legal change.

Network for Sex Works Projects
The Network for Sex Works Project is an alliance of international organizations that promote sex workers health and human rights.

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