On the occasion of the 2010 World AIDS Day, the French National AIDS Council published an opinion entitled HIV and the sex trade. Ensuring universal access to prevention and care.

In this opinion, the Council describes the profound changes prostitution has undergone in France over the last fifteen years, with the arrival of an often-precarious migrant population, the fragmentation of activity zones and the development of new types of activity such as occasional and online prostitution.

The Council’s report is cause for alarm. Living and working conditions within the sex trade have deteriorated and persons involved in prostitution have ever-greater difficulty in exercising their rights to residence and social protection. In addition, they are directly exposed to various forms of violence and isolation. As a result, prostitutes cannot afford to make their health a priority and often find themselves at greater risk of health hazards, especially HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).

Moreover, changes in legislation, including making passive soliciting an offence, has led to a surge in the number of prostituted persons brought before justice. This, in turn, has considerably heightened their vulnerability, made prostitution more clandestine as people seek to conceal their activity, and complicated the preventive work carried out by associations. Conversely, measures designed to facilitate access to the right of residence and to a safe haven only concern a very small number.

Consequently, the National AIDS Council advises authorities to take into more careful consideration the health and rights issues of persons involved in prostitution. The new 2010-2014 French National Plan for HIV/AIDS-STDs provides a precious opportunity to facilitate this population access to care and prevention. In addition, the Council suggests that the law on soliciting be reconsidered, that the departments of Health, Interior, Justice and Social cohesion be encouraged to work hand in hand when addressing these issues, and that associations working in close proximity to prostituted people receive sufficient means to ensure access to healthcare, prevention and social rights.


Laurent Geffroy – +33 [0]1 40 56 68 58 – laurent.geffroy@sante.gouv.fr

Michel Celse – +33 [0]1 40 56 68 56 – michel.celse@sante.gouv.fr