Throughout this chapter I will be using certain terms with which readers may not be familiar and which perhaps require some clarification:
Sex industry—when the term ‘prostitution’ is used people focus on the prostitute as though prostitution were something that prostitutes do on their own and amongst themselves. Consumers, managers, police and other controllers of the sex industry are too often forgotten or ignored. Prostitution is a business which operates under commercial market forces; the work element and the impact that others have on the working conditions in the sex industry are often neglected.
Sex worker is used to define those, both male and female, who accept some form of payment in return for physical sexual services. The term ‘prostitute’ often invokes a stereotypical image of a ‘street woman’ or ‘high class call girl’ and ignores the enormous range of people providing commercial sex. This paper addresses issues common to both male and female sex workers but focuses primarily on issues facing women as sex workers.
It is time to move away from the concept of ‘high risk groups’, such as prostitutes, intravenous drug users and homosexuals. The fact that a person accepts money for sexual services or injects drugs or has sex with someone of the same gender does not in itself put them at risk of HIV infection. It is how people engage in specific high risk activities that can put them at risk.
HIV is sexually transmitted and since sex is an integral part of the sex industry, it is not surprising that HIV and AIDS are being linked with the sex industry. What is dubious, however, is the way in which this link is being interpreted not only by the tabloid press but even by a few experts in the field.