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"Pos Worker Won't Get Fair Trial" 31 Jan 08

Recently a male sex worker was charged in the ACT under the Prostitution Act on two accounts. “At this stage we do not know if the person is guilty of the charges laid. Mr Scott has pleaded not guilty and deserves and is entitled to a fair trial.” Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance.

ACT Health has taken the unprecedented step of identifying the infection. “Scarlet Alliance does not support the decision from ACT Health to release details on Mr Scott’s HIV status. In our opinion this information being released out of court will significantly prejudice a fair trial.”

ACT Health revealed that Mr. Scott was known to be HIV positive, and announced its intention to commence contact tracing – broadly contacting a range of people whose phone numbers were held by the accused. “It must be remembered that 250 contacts in a persons phone or diary does not mean all or any of these people are at risk or have even had sex with the accused.” Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance.

“The epidemiology in Australia supports our understanding that Australian sex workers are on the whole effectively implementing safe sex practices with their clients on a daily basis. We know that in the majority of cases it is the client that does not perceive themselves to be at risk and the sex worker that successfully negotiates and implements safe sex practices.” Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance.

“What we have learnt from our partnership (between Government and communities) response to the AIDS epidemic is that when safe sex practices are implemented, including the combination of condoms and water based lubricant, the risk of transmission or acquiring HIV is very low. And condoms do work, evidenced by the low rates of HIV or STIs amongst sex workers in Australia. But it must be understood that safe sex is a shared responsibility. If unsafe sex has occurred it is the responsibility of both parties.” Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance. ‘HIV is transmitted by unsafe sex not because money changes hands.”

Evidence shows that HIV positive people participating in safe sex do not necessarily place their sexual partners at risk.

“The high number of sero-discordant relationships in which the HIV negative partner does not acquire HIV demonstrates that protected sex with a HIV positive person does not necessarily lead to transmission.” Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance.

“The high levels of condom use amongst Australian sex workers means there is no need to exclude HIV positive people from sex work. The cultural norms in the industry are high levels of condom use and very responsible approaches to implementing safe sex by individual sex workers.” Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance.