Sexual health of sex workers

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The Sex Work Act 1994 and Sex Work Regulations 2016 aim to protect sex workers, public health and safety, and public interest.

The regulations apply to:

  • sexually transmissible infections (STIs)
  • safety
  • advertising.

Sexually transmissible infections (STIs)

STIs pass between people via sexual contact. Many, such as chlamydia, may have no immediate symptoms, but can cause serious illness or death.

STIs include HIV, and also the following conditions as prescribed by the Regulations:

  • chlamydia
  • chancroid
  • donovanosis
  • genital and anal herpes (when lesions are visible)
  • genital and anal warts (when lesions are visible)
  • gonorrhoea
  • infectious syphilis.

Your obligations

It is an offence for a licensee or manager to permit a sex worker to work if they know they are infected with a STI. It is also illegal for sex workers to work if they know they are infected.

As a licensee or manager, if one of your sex workers is found working with a STI, you are presumed to have known they were infected unless you believed, on reasonable grounds, that the sex worker had been undergoing regular blood or swab tests; or was not infected.

All brothels should have a procedure to monitor workers' health status. This can include an up-to-date register detailing:

  • the worker's name
  • the date a medical certificate was sighted
  • frequency of checks
  • the date of the next check.

A sex worker's health information is confidential and you must not share it without their consent. You must ensure it is not displayed or used to make a client believe a worker is STI free.

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