Senegal’s Legalization and Regulation of Sex Work Applauded

Signing up to a government scheme that regulates the sex industry in Senegal means sex workers must register with police, attend mandatory monthly sexual health screenings, test negative for STIs and carry a valid ID card confirming their health status. If a sex worker contracts HIV, they’re given free antiretroviral therapy treatment before being allowed to continue soliciting clients. Some public health experts suggest that Senegal’s registration system opened dialogue about sexual behavior and laid the groundwork for future HIV prevention programs targeting vulnerable populations. It’s also the only nation on the continent where sex work is legal and regulated by health policy, according to the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, which advocates for decriminalization of the profession. At 0.4%, HIV prevalence in the country is significantly lower than many of its West and Central African neighbors; the average for the region is 1.5%, per UNAIDS. That figure is even higher in East and Southern Africa, where HIV prevalence is 7.1%.


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