From the Latin America and Caribbean Network of Female Sex Workers (RedTraSex) we believe that during the International Day to Combat AIDS we must remember the delays that we —as a society— have in the response to HIV.
With 15 years working in sixteen countries in the region, from RedTraSex we argue that primary prevention approach had a positive effect on the epidemic with a reduction in HIV prevalence among female sex workers in Latin America and the Caribbean. But these gains are insufficient to achieve sustained reductions in HIV prevalence.
Very little progress has been made in the countries of this region in reducing violence, discrimination and exclusion of female sex workers. There are still policies that increase our vulnerability and have a detrimental impact on the response to HIV as a violation of confidentiality, the difficulty in accessing health services, the illegal arrest, impunity in cases of murdered sex workers, detention and violence by the police and making our work clandestine.
Despite widespread recognition by governments on the importance of universal access and respect for human rights, as manifested through agreements and commitments at the international level, this is yet to be reflected in national-level policies and programmes. There have been no amendments or repeal of laws that criminalize sex work; instead there is an ever-increasing number of anti-trafficking laws that rather than mitigating the issues, further contribute to violating the labor rights of those who sell sex through personal choice.
We know that advocating to change public policies and the participation of female sex workers in decision-making spaces have contributed to the HIV response and to defending human rights.
Therefore we demand:
• Not criminalization of our work or the transmission of HIV, and non-HIV status unveiling.
• Promoting access to HIV test and to HIV related health services in a free, confidential and high quality way.
• That the decision makers intensified efforts in preventing the transmission of HIV and STIs with higher budgets.
• The recognition of sex work as work, so that we may sell our services in safe spaces and dignified conditions.
• Active participation in the development and evaluation of policies, norms and programs that affect us.
The above will allow us to continue being agents for social change, ensuring a better quality of life and working conditions for female sex workers.
Executive Secretary RedTraSex