From the preceding accounts, it appears that prostitution as a social issue is here to stay. With the advent of globalization, particularly, new forms of prostitution appear to be cropping up and are posing new challenges to moral entrepreneurs, scholars, and policymakers.
While the debate about what policies to adopt toward prostitution rages, its harmful effects loom large. Moralists, liberals, and radicals are all agreed, though in varying degrees, that prostitution facilitates the spread of diseases. As such, short-term stopgap measures have been introduced. In many places, sex workers have been provided free condoms in the hopes that they will not be transmitters of infectious diseases. Some sex workers have also been trained to acquire social skills in order to successfully persuade their clients to engage in protected sex. In some areas that regulate prostitution, prostitutes are required to have weekly medical checkups for STDs.
While these initiatives at the individual and local levels are helpful, they will not be enough to significantly impact the spread of infectious diseases. In most countries in Africa and Asia, for example, the spread of HIV had been intimately linked to the dynamics of prostitution. Success of efforts to distribute condoms and to educate prostitutes on how to use them pale in comparison to the new cases of HIV-AIDS that are reported monthly. It takes more than an individual and localized effort to solve a problem that has economic and social roots.
The ideological differences in how to view prostitution must be transcended, given the need to more proactively effect safe prostitution practices. Not to trivialize the positions of those who view prostitution as work, but their agenda should also include policies to curb the spread of diseases through prostitution. Likewise, the policy positions of either criminalization or decriminalization should also reflect a recognition of this socio-medical reality and not so much the unbending dictates of an ideology.
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