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Ear to the Ground

Condom Crackdown Subverts HIV Prevention Efforts

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Posted on Jul 19, 2012
Zawezome (CC BY 2.0)

Women who carry around condoms—including sex workers who use them to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases—are being criminalized in cities across the United States, as police agencies view possession of prophylactics as evidence of prostitution.

A new report by Human Rights Watch, published ahead of the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., compiles evidence from sex workers in that city, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Interviews with more than 300 people show that many carry fewer condoms than they need in order to avoid being searched and arrested, thus increasing their chances of getting HIV and other diseases.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Guardian:

“Some women told Human Rights Watch that they continued to carry condoms despite the harsh consequences. For others, fear of arrest overwhelmed their need to protect themselves from HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy,” says the report.

One of the interviewees, Carol F, a sex worker in Los Angeles, told HRW she had been arrested partly on the basis of carrying condoms. “After the arrest, I was always scared … There were times when I didn’t have a condom when I needed one, and I used a plastic bag,” she said.

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