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She was prescribed antiretroviral medication and continued to do sex work, practicing safe sex. But Lori said word on the street was that having sex while HIV positive can carry felony charges. While Pennsylvania does not have a specific law criminalizing sex while HIV positive as many states do , sex workers living with HIV face more serious charges than an HIV-negative person would for the same offense.
She also was sexually assaulted more than once. Most of the roughly 1, attendees are from the Philadelphia region. Poor health care and criminalization of sex workers feed into each other to create a cycle, said Marsoopian, now an organizer with Project SAFE Philadelphia, which offers services to sex workers throughout the city.
From there, good health care becomes hard to access, she said. And that just perpetuates the stigma. To this end, and in light of the HIV laws that Lori spoke of, Marsoopian and her fellow presenters made the case for decriminalizing sex work as a public health strategy. Project SAFE argues decriminalization is the most inclusive strategy to keep sex workers out of jail and healthy. As with similar efforts with marijuana, decriminalizing sex work would mean local law enforcement would agree not to prosecute those who engage in prostitution, which is illegal.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced this year that his office would not charge sex workers for the first and second offense. Project SAFE lauds that move, but is critical of what its staff views as a highly restrictive and nearly impossible to complete diversion program for repeat offenders, called DAWN Court.
Shifting the liability for illegal activity online away from individuals and onto websites, it was designed to reduce online sex trafficking. But communities of sex workers and others maintain it will push sex work into the shadows and onto the streets — and away from online forums where workers could vouch for and validate clients.