To Mr Lucas Papademos, Prime Minister of Greece,
Since the end of April 2012, sex workers in Greece are forced to be tested by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (KEEL).
According to Kathimerini news, the police uploaded photos of 12 sex workers onto their website http://www.hellenicpolice.gr. Those who are tested HIV positive are to face a prosecutor on charges of intentionally causing grievous bodily harm, a felony.
These practices are a violation of sex workers’ human rights, their right of freedom, privacy, and the confidentiality on their health condition. They are discriminatory and in complete contradiction with all international and EU treaties that Greece has ratified. They are archaic since they are only a new version of the Contagious Diseases Acts implemented during Victorian Britain.
They are also completely counterproductive in terms of HIV prevention and the opposite of all recommendations made in the fight against HIV.
The scapegoating of sex workers is not going to stop new infections, but only worsen the stigma and discriminations against sex workers and people living with HIV. The mandatory testing and the outing of sex workers living with HIV is only contributing to more distrust with medical institutions and sex workers avoiding access to medical care, when they should instead feel encouraged and respected. If sex workers ignore their status and avoid medical care, they won’t be able to access treatments which can improve their health and reduce the risk of new infection.
The new climate of paranoia and fear will only discourage people to get tested and to disclose their status. It will force sex workers living with HIV to hide and to accept unsafe sex to avoid suspicion, and it will encourage clients to ask for unprotected sex thinking that sex workers are tested for their own safety.
– The immediate end of forced and mandatory testing
– The non-criminalisation and non-discrimination of sex workers and people living with HIV
– The respect of the right of privacy
– Access to free, anonymous HIV testing and on a voluntary basis
– Public campaigns for the prevention of HIV, its means of transmission, and against the stigmatisation of sex workers and people living with HIV
– The end of government cuts on health care and services in particular regarding HIV prevention, care and access to treatment.
Sex workers are not the problem, but part of the solution.