Sex workers are frequently omitted from discussions about the links between criminalisation, marginalisation, and increased HIV transmission. At the IAS 2010 conference in Vienna, substantial attention was focused on the negative impacts that criminalisation has on men who have sex with men, injection drug users, and people living with HIV—but very little on its effects on sex workers. Few outside of the Global Village explicitly called for decriminalisation of sex work or mentioned that laws criminalizing HIV transmission and exposure exacerbate the damage already being done to sex workers' health and rights. This article explores this omission, how other hard-hit constituencies have struggled for their place on the HIV/AIDS advocacy agenda, and why the HIV/AIDS field should be actively collaborating with sex workers' rights organisations, particularly on anti-criminalisation work.
This paper is the product of discussions of the Thematic Task Team on Creating an Enabling Legal and Policy Environment in preparation for the 1st Asia and the Pacific Regional Consultation on HIV and Sex Work, 12 – 15 October 2010 in Pattaya, Thailand.