For the past 10 years I’ve been open about my HIV status and my drug use history. I can’t lie about these things anymore. I just don’t do that. Now, it’s quite possible that my honesty will cost me a US visa.
We will loudly advocate for the recognition of sex work as work, we will oppose the criminalization of sex work, and support the freedom of sex workers to self-organization and self-determination. In the absence of all these freedoms, HIV prevention policies, programs and efforts will remain ineffective.
To be at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC would mean a lot to me. I would’ve wanted to share our issues with the delegates and I’m sorry that the US immigration policy restricts entry into the country for people like me.
I dreamed of coming to Washington to speak at AIDS 2012 to deliver a message to those with the financial and political means to turn the tide of the epidemic: For millions of us, repressive drug policies and stigma stand in the way of treatment and prevention. But I am barred from participating.
Freedom from abuse and violence is a human right that we will continue to fight for at every forum, including the Sex Worker Freedom Festival, which is on at Kolkata at the same time as the International AIDS Conference takes place in Washington DC.
In July, Washington, D.C. will host a conference on HIV/AIDS, where participants will gather to discuss to the latest science and policy of HIV treatment and prevention. Yet the country’s immigration policy denies entry to those disproportionately affected by the pandemic—people dependent on drugs—because of their medical condition.
When he came out as HIV-positive, Americans were forced to recognize that even our heroes can get HIV. Yes, someone out there (perhaps more than one person) transmitted HIV to Johnson, and it’s possible Johnson had non-straight sex. But Gawker isn’t looking to disprove the very real fact that you can get HIV from sex with a woman.
Sex work may be illegal in Uganda but providing services for sex workers is not. Because of our status as sex workers, we are being left out of many social services, especially health services.
Sex workers and allies demand US policy change in lead up to the International AIDS Conference.
Rights-based public health measures should seek to protect all people from HIV infection, and provide those who are HIV-positive with the tools to live healthier lives.