In the 80’s, sex workers’ response to HIV in Australia was immediate and tangible. Sex workers organised together to do voluntary peer education work, including the distribution of condoms in street based sex working areas. Brothel sex workers demanded the right to use condoms, educating their clients and the brothel owners in the process. By the late 1980’s, condom use was up to 90%, setting an environment for an unprecedented positive public health story. To date, there has been no recorded transmission of HIV through sex work in Australia.
“Sex workers have worked hard to spread the word about HIV prevention through peer education. Unwavering vigilance, dignity and meticulous attention to detail has characterised the Australian sex worker response to HIV AIDS" said Scarlet Alliance Manager Janelle Fawkes. “Low rates of HIV among sex workers in Australia is a result of the passionate and dedicated work of sex worker peer educators. In brothels, in the workplaces of private workers and on the streets, sex workers are the safe sex educators, leading the way for low rate of HIV among sex workers in Australia”.
“Recognition of the vigilance of sex workers who have, since the 80’s, promoted and implemented safer sex practices in their workplaces, is long overdue” Janelle Fawkes, Scarlet Alliance Manager stated. "Human, legal, civil and industrial rights, access to non-judgemental and affordable health care and access to condoms, remain the ongoing challenges for sex worker rights organisations around the world. Scarlet Alliance will continue to lobby against laws that criminalise our work, stigmatise sex workers and clients and act as a barrier to sharing sex worker knowledge, such as the "Consorting" laws of South Australia and the "Move On Notices" and "Restraining Orders" in Western Australia."
Scarlet Alliance welcomes the launch of World AIDS Day, hosted by Federal Health Minister Tony Abbot.