The criminalization of sex work is associated with higher rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, condomless sex and being a target of sexual violence among individuals in the trade, aidsmap reports.

Publishing their findings in PLOS Medicine, researchers conducted a pooled meta-analysis of 40 quantitative and 94 qualitative studies of sex workers in various nations around the world. They examined the impact of so-called repressive policing of sex workers, including recent arrest, prison time, workplace displacement, extortion or violence on the part of police officers.

Such repressive policing was associated with a 1.87-fold increased risk of HIV or STIs, a 1.42-fold increased likelihood of condomless sex and a 2.99-fold increased risk of sexual or physical violence from clients or others. Those sex workers who did experience sexual or physical violence from the police had a 2.27-fold higher rate of HIV or STIs compared with sex workers who did not.

“Together, the qualitative and quantitative evidence demonstrate the extensive harms associated with criminalization of sex work, including laws and enforcement targeting the sale and purchase of sex, and activities relating to sex work organization,” the study authors concluded. “There is an urgent need to reform sex-work-related laws and institutional practices so as to reduce harms and barriers to the realization of health.”

To read the MedPage Today article, click here.

To read the study, click here.