A new report has found police in major U.S. cities are confiscating condoms from sex workers, putting them at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Human Rights Watch says police are harassing and threatening transgender women and sex workers, and even arresting them solely for carrying condoms. In at least three cities, prosecutors introduced condoms as evidence at trials. Some sex workers who were afraid to carry condoms reported having unprotected sex or using plastic bags as substitutes. The report also notes widespread profiling and other abuses by police, including reports police in Los Angeles and New York City demanded sex in exchange for dropping charges and coerced women into sex while they were detained.
U.S. restrictions are preventing many people most affected by HIV/AIDS from attending the International AIDS Conference scheduled to begin in Washington, D.C., on Sunday. The United States categorically bans sex workers and drug users from entering the country unless they can obtain a special waiver. Sex workers and their allies are protesting their exclusion by holding a separate conference called the Sex Worker Freedom Festival in Kolkata, India. Speaking ahead of the India conference, Andrew Hunter of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects said the United States is discriminating against sex workers.
Andrew Hunter: "[The U.S.] are the largest funder for HIV services and providing anti-retroviral (ARV) medicines to people with HIV, yet they are completely hypocritical when it comes to the involvement of sex workers in — not only in the International AIDS Conference, but the role of sex workers in controlling the HIV epidemic globally. So, we are not allowed to go to their conference, but we’re also not allowed to get their money for HIV prevention programming."