New WHO Report: Decriminalize Sex Work, Drug Use to Prevent Spread of HIV

A World Health Organization (WHO) report issued this month details guidelines to address policies on and treatment of HIV among vulnerable populations including transgender people. Notably, the report urges governments to decriminalize behaviors to more comprehensively and competently address the spread of HIV:

“Countries should work toward decriminalization of behaviours such as drug use/injecting, sex work, same-sex activity and nonconforming gender identities, and toward elimination of the unjust application of civil law and regulations against people who use/inject drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgender people​.

Improving policies that aid in HIV prevention and improve treatment requires, as the report notes, a combination of efforts. These efforts include making access to contraception, testing, and health facilities available to vulnerable populations; ending violence and stigma against vulnerable populations like transgender people and sex workers; and eliminating laws and policies that criminalize behaviors, which instill fear in these populations and deters individuals from seeking care.

The WHO’s declaration comes on the heels of the U.S. Justice Department’s (DOJ) release of it’s own guidelines that call for an end to HIV criminalization laws.

The National Center for Transgender Equality urges local and state officials to rely on these reports to comprehensively ​review their own criminal laws and take other steps to address HIV in transgender and sex worker communities.

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