Sex workers are frequently omitted from discussions about the links between criminalization, marginalization, and increased HIV transmission. At the IAS 2010 conference in Vienna, substantial attention was focused on the negative impacts that criminalization 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 decriminalization 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 organizations, particularly on anti-criminalization work.
The Center for HIV Law and Policy is a national resource and advocacy organization working to advance the rights of people affected by HIV. We combine an online HIV Policy Resource Bank, a creative national advocacy agenda, and case assistance focused on systems and institutions with significant impact on marginalized communities.