San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution
Final Report 1996

III. Health, Safety and Services

Health aspects of prostitution include issues of social, physical and mental health. Since various studies have established, for example, that men transmit HIV (and STDs) at a significantly higher rate than women, it is important to gear education and reform efforts towards members of the community as a whole, including male clients.43

When assessing the health and social service needs of prostitutes, it is important to remember that prostitutes are varied in their experiences and needs. It is necessary to provide alternatives for those who wish to leave, as well as to improve working conditions and services for those who remain in the industry.

In addressing health safety and service issues for prostitutes, it is crucial to prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable individuals, who are at greater risk in terms of health and safety.44 Economic development and services for low income and poor people in San Francisco improve conditions in the neighborhoods generally, with the long term effect of reducing prostitution that stems from poverty.

A number of recommendations specifically address the needs and issues of marginalized individuals and communities who are among those most adversely affected and those who experience discrimination in access to services. (See Appendix D: Health, Safety and Services: Needs Assessment)

The Task Force recommendations put forth the provision of services based on a harm reduction, rather than punishment-based model.45

Health and The Law

In accordance with Legal Recommendation (V.), the Health, Safety and Services Committee recommends that the City direct efforts to repeal mandatory HIV testing of persons convicted of prostitution, as punitive treatment of HIV+ persons exacerbates marginalization and seriously increases health risks. (See Legal Recommendations)

Counseling regarding HIV prevention, transmission and risk reduction as well as voluntary anonymous or confidential testing, should be provided to all members of the community, including sex workers and clients. As a result of information provided by Task Force members, in June 1994, Terence Hallinan and Angela Alioto submitted legislation which was approved by the Board of Supervisors urging the Mayor, District Attorney and Chief of Police to "no longer confiscate and or alter or use the fact of condom possession for investigative or court evidence purposes." In September 1994, District Attorney Arlo Smith began a "six month trial period" to study the effects of this policy. In March of 1995, Smith announced that the District Attorney's Office would cease using condoms as evidence of prostitution.

The Task Force recommends the following:

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  • See also, Exhibits: Health, Safety and Services