The Sixth National HIV Strategy

5.5 Sex workers

Page last updated: July 2010

Despite the occupational risks, the incidence of HIV in sex workers in Australia is among the lowest in the world. This is largely because of the establishment of safe-sex as a norm, the availability of safe-sex equipment, and community-driven health promotion and peer-based interventions. However, the potential for an increase in HIV in sex work populations remains. Continuing support of prevention initiatives are therefore required to minimise transmission of HIV.

Sex workers are a priority population because of their significantly higher number of sexual encounters than other community members leading to an increased potential for transmission of HIV if safe practices are not adopted. Other contributing factors are relative youth, discrimination, mobility and migration, and barriers to control over the occupational health and safety conditions of their work and to health service access. High priority subpopulations require specifically tailored and targeted interventions. This includes transgender sex workers, street based sex workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sex workers, CALD sex workers, sex workers who inject drugs, and male sex workers.