Published November, 2016

Criminal Laws on Sex Work and HIV Transmission: Mapping the Laws, Considering the Consequences, S. Baskin, A. Ahmed, A. Forbes, Denver Law Review (2016)

This law review article analyzes the criminalization of sex work in the United States and how it undermines the health and safety of sex workers, who face a higher burden of HIV. Using a public health law mapping method to document laws that criminalize HIV transmission and exposure, criminalize sex work, and mandate HIV testing for those arrested and/or convicted on prostitution charges, it then discusses where they intersect and how they compound criminal penalties for sex workers, further marginalizing and disenfranchising them.

The article concludes that the criminalization of HIV transmission and sex work neither addresses the HIV epidemic nor improves public health. Rather, investment in strategies that actually promote HIV prevention and reduce transmission, such as community empowerment-based peer-mediated HIV prevention programs are necessary, but unlikely under the current legal system that primarily prosecutes and punishes.