Radical Way of Increasing Awarness and Lowering STDs

In Judith Levine’s article entitled “Community: Risk, Identity and Love in the Age of AIDS,” she speaks a great deal about prostitution in the section of the article about respecting each person’s choices as a rational decision. Additionally, a great deal of the article deals with education about AIDS and how to expand the reach of knowledge of the disease. Considering the “matter of fact” nature of the article, and its acknowledgement how reasoning behind prostitution, I began rationale prostitution.

It is no secret that prostitution occurs despite legality constraints against it, and  as we can see in the article, “street kids” are using it to barter. Levine points out that many of these street kids are vigilant enough to know that they should condoms, yet there is a high bartering price for sex without a condom. Undeniably, contracting HIV/AIDS is the surest way to make you less desirable to barter with and limits you to who you can barter with through sex. A very similar notion can be applied for prostitutes [1].

In response to this article, there is a very simple way to increase knowledge about not just HIV and AIDS but STIs as a whole and to eliminate this whole concept of bartering for sex. Actually, allow me to be clear, it is simple in theory, and far too extreme to be applicable in today’s society. Nonetheless, legalizing prostitution, with a few regulations and guidelines, could solve many issues here domestically for us.

Due to the black market conditions of prostitution, several key factors emerge such as: minimal standards of sexual health, non-taxable income and safety. For a relative comparison, I will limit most my scope to within the United States, but there is data to be gathered from international areas outside the US that do allow prostitution as well. In the US, the only legalized prostitution is allowed in Nevada. Nevada state law requires that each week a registered prostitute must be tested for the absence of gonorrhea and Chlamydia and each month be tested for HIV and syphilis. By legalizing prostitution, we would at least have a regulatory mandate that would provide a “safer” environment (in terms of sexual health) through such testing regulations. These regulations also bar a prostitute from ever working in a legal brothel is HIV is contracted and is not permitted to work if tested positive for any other disease until properly treated [2]. I think implementing these regulations could create a true incentive for aiding increasing awareness by utilizing this multi-million dollar a year industry (that is legally speaking). In Nevada alone, prostitution rakes in state economic revenue of $400 million dollars a year [3]. Last time I checked the US has a large debit that they needed to pay off, and by taking a portion of this revenue, the government could allot more money to research and awareness programs. Not to mention, if it was legalized, there would also be a decrease in violent crimes committed against prostitutes. The profession is dangerous enough, in terms of disease, but it also one of the most violent professions where rape is common. I understand that some may have a moral issue with the idea of legalizing this, but at the root of it, it helps provide a safe haven for those who engage in the practice, and it can help stimulate economic growth.

[1] https://classes.emory.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1642090-dt-content-rid-262294_2/courses/FA12_AMST_385_DTROKA_Combined/risk%20identity%20and%20love%20in%20the%20age%20of%20AIDS.pdf

[2] http://prostitution.procon.org/view.background-resource.php?resourceID=749#21

[3] http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/06/15/feeling-the-pinch.html

6 thoughts on “Radical Way of Increasing Awarness and Lowering STDs

  1. It is interesting to me how you said that after reading Judith Levine’s article entitled “Community: Risk, Identity and Love in the Age of AIDS,” you have started to “began [to] rationale prostitution.” I had a different interpretation after the reading, and actually began to irrationalize it even more than I did before. I do believe in everyone living their own lives in ways that they deem fit and in ways that make them happy, however, I wouldn’t wholeheartedly support legalization of prostitution in every state in the U.S (even though I know it is legal in Nevada and several countries in the world).

    I personally disagree with your comment that, “legalizing prostitution, with a few regulations and guidelines, could solve many issues here domestically for us.” After reading this I think of the following things: Firstly, “Why can’t we have even stronger rules to demolish the system of prostitution? This is one of the leading causes of AIDS/HIV in the first place. Thus supporting it may do us more harm than good” Secondly, ” What about the doctor- patient confidentiality contract? Would their results be allowed to be known by their “manager” to then not allow them to work in say a brothel after testing positive for HIV? ” and Thirdly, “Is re-paying the debt/ stimulation of economic growth more or equally important than saving lives of millions of people dying each year by STD’s?” This is only my personal opinion, and I would love to know if you disagree with my comment.

  2. Prostitution has many other implications beyond that of simply STDs. It also serves to uphold the gendered power relations between men and women. Women are an object capable to be purchased and used. Legalization of prostitution would be seen as a backwards direction in the feminine movement to gain equal rights in social settings. Therefore any slight gains in the reduction of STD rates through legal prostitution would not be worth the devastating social effects it would have.

    Education and marketing approaches which serve to inform people about the risks and repercussions of such activities would be similarly effective without negative social consequences.

    • Kien Bean: I am left wondering still about the power imbalance in these paid sex transactions as well, but what about women who have sex with women for money? Or men who have sex with men for money? or men who have sex with women for money? How does that fit into your paradigm?

  3. Interesting way of lowering STDs. Your argument somehow reminded me about marijuana policy of the Netherlands. They have legalized marijuana use to promote eradication of the black market and safe use of the drug. Legalizing prostitution could bring the same benefits in terms of reducing STDs and dangerous illegal prostitution. I actually agree with the most of what you wrote because they all look quite well-reasoned. So I think legalization and careful regulation of the sex-workers may help us decrease STD proliferation.

    However, as kienbean mentioned, legalizing prostitution would be against the feminism movement, and somewhat degrading important human values, such as love and dignity. I think too many organizations (especially the religious organizations of all kinds) will be against the legalization.

  4. Team STI: Well you certainly hit on a hot topic here. Great job getting a robust conversation going! Your argument is an interesting one, and one that I think others have made and I am intrigued by the Public Health aspect of it, that is, the monitoring of STDs on a weekly and monthly basis, but I am wondering about the “johns” or “clients”- who is monitoring them? Or maybe, WHY aren’t we monitoring them as well? Also, I wonder about the financial impact on the women (I am assuming we are talking about female sex workers here, but men sell sex too, right?). I think part of the motivation to have sex for money or just to be a sex worker in general (dancer, phone sex, internet sex, etc) is that it is GOOD MONEY. Many sex workers can make in one weekend what an Assistant or Associate Professor makes in one month. I wonder if the government got involved and sex workers had to start paying taxes if it would be such a lucrative business for them. In part, clients are paying for the “danger,” no?

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