HIV/AIDS and TB > Women and HIV/AIDS > Commercial Sex Work and HIV and AIDS
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Commercial Sex Work and HIV and AIDS

In South Africa, it is a crime to be a commercial sex worker. This is sometimes still referred to as ‘prostitution’. It is also a crime to solicit (get customers). Although both men and women can be sex workers, it is usually women working on the streets who are most often prosecuted and who are most vulnerable to violence and abuse.

Commercial sex workers are vulnerable to HIV because:

  • They are not always able to insist that their customers use condoms and the sex is often violent
  • Because sex work is illegal, it is difficult for sex workers to get information about HIV and safer sex practices
  • Sex workers are often scared to say that they are sex workers and are not able to go to organisations where they couldget help and information
  • They are also not able to protect themselves from rape and abuse because they cannot report these crimes to the police