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Sex workers in Nigeria

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In 2016, it was estimated that 14.4% of sex workers were living with HIV in Nigeria. This is a significant drop since 2013 when it was estimated that 24.5% of sex workers were living with HIV.  HIV prevalence among sex workers is still eight times higher than the general population.

There are a number of factors that make sex workers more vulnerable to HIV. HIV prevalence is higher among female sex workers at 24.5% compared to male sex workers at 18.6%. Similarly, brothel-based sex workers face greater HIV risk in Nigeria, with a prevalence of 27.4%.

Progress in HIV prevention meant that, in 2016, 98.1% of sex workers reported using a condom with their last sexual partner and 97.1% of female sex workers had received an HIV test in the last 12 months.

Sex work is illegal in Nigeria. The law states that those wholly or partly supporting themselves through sex work can face two years imprisonment. There is no law that prevents healthcare workers from providing sex workers with health services, yet the criminalising law makes it difficult for individuals to disclose that they are sex workers to healthcare workers. The new law also makes sex workers more vulnerable to abuse from law enforcers.

When a sex worker’s hideout is raided, the law enforcers collect money from them and when there is no money to offer, they offer them sex. Some of these law enforcers don’t even use condoms and the sex worker don’t have much of a choice at that particular time.

 Ms. Anemo, National Coordinator of Nigerian Sex Workers Association, advocating for decriminalisation of sex work, 2017

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