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In Nigeria and Ghana, HIV prevalence among sex workers is eight times higher than the rest of the population.5 Although sex workers are one of the groups most affected by HIV, they are also one of the groups most likely to respond well to HIV prevention programmes.

Proof of this can be seen in countries such as Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, India and Thailand, where reductions in national HIV prevalence have been helped by initiatives targeting sex workers and their clients.

Sex work may vary in the degree to which it is more or less “formal” or organised, and in the degree to which it is distinct from other social and sexual relationships and types of sexual economic exchange.1 On average, sex workers are 10 times more likely to become infected with HIV than adults in the general population.2 However, there are significant variations between regions and countries.

In low- and middle-income countries, HIV prevalence among sex workers is an estimated 12%.3 In four countries, HIV prevalence is 50 times higher than in the general population.4 One study of 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa found an average HIV prevalence of 37% among sex workers.

Sex workers often share common factors, regardless of their background, that can make them vulnerable to HIV transmission.6 Sex workers are often stigmatised, marginalised and criminalised by the societies in which they live.

In various ways, these factors contribute to their vulnerability to HIV.

This year, it has had one single meeting, in March.

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