Senegal: Where Prostitution Is Legal And Is Regulated By A Health Policy

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Sex Workers In Senegal Have A Registration Card Indicating Their HIV/AIDS Status

 The legal status of prostitution is different across different countries worldwide. Its prohibition lies on the idea that the legalisation of prostitution could contribute to an increased number of prostitution acts hence increasing the number of HIV and STI cases. Senegal a low-income country remains to be the only country where prostitution is legal.
In Senegal, prostitution is regulated by a health policy. In order to solicit clients in public commercial sex workers have to register with a health facility and attend monthly health checks to either test and or treat STIs. An official registration card is issued to commercial sex workers with a photograph of them in a bid to keep a record of visits they make to a health centre.
The registration card provides evidence regarding female sex workers’ negative STI status and also their registration status. In case the female workers test positive for any STI other than HIV/AIDS, the registration card is kept at the health centre during the entire period of their treatment. HIV-positive female sex workers are allowed to work only if they can adhere to ART (Anti-Retroviral Treatment) and this lowers the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Compliance with the stipulated health checks is recorded on the registration card which every commercial sex worker should carry to avoid any penal sanctions. This policy was introduced in 1969 in a bid to limit the spread of STIs and HIV/AIDS. So far there isn’t any evidence on its impact on commercial sex workers’ health.
However, propensity score matching, shows that becoming a registered commercial sex worker in Senegal contributes to health improvement although it has a significant effect on sex workers’ well-being. For instance, registered sex workers mostly engage in risky sex acts and may experience violence from clients and have less social support from their coworkers. Since 1969, Senegalese female sex workers aged more than 21 years old are compelled to register with a health centre and to attend routine health visits in order to test (and treat) STIs and to receive free condoms (Chersich et al., 2013).

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