Purpose of review
People who sell sex remain at disproportionate risk of acquiring HIV and should be prioritized for evidence-based HIV prevention programmes delivered at sufficient scale and intensity for effectiveness. Although new biomedical tools are becoming available, many basic lessons learned early in the HIV pandemic remain salient today and need renewed attention.
New preexposure prophylaxis formulations, distribution systems, and delivery mechanisms are being successfully trialled and implemented, adding to well established prevention tools such as male and female condoms and lubricants. The importance of social support networks and community ownership of programmes has been consistently reaffirmed. Serious challenges remain in optimizing HIV prevention for sex workers, including providing services at the scale and intensity necessary for population level impact, addressing culturally sensitive issues of gender identity and sexual orientation, and protecting adolescents and young people who may sell sex. Pervasive social stigma, often reinforced by criminalization and police harassment, further constrain sex workers’ access to available services and prevention tools.
Meaningful community engagement and addressing the multiple social determinants of vulnerability at individual, community, and structural levels remain at the core of preventing HIV among people involved in selling sex.