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Wait, When Has Fear of Disease Stifled Sex Work?

Okay, this is honestly just too weird to me. Of all the different coronavirus-is-killing-jobs angles that there are to take, Yahoo News specifically targeted one that has left me shaking my head. Here’s the report:

In the epicenter of America’s coronavirus outbreak, sex workers are one of the first groups making adjustments.

Some have started taking their temperature every morning and asking their clients to do the same. Others have instituted no-kissing policies. Those who can afford to are setting up webcam sites or leaving the city entirely.

Still, the sex industry in Seattle has seen an unprecedented collapse in demand, making workers worry that they’ll be unable to pay rent and, potentially, more likely to end up in unsafe situations out of desperation.

What am I missing here? Don’t take this to mean that I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for women who feel that they have no options but to resort to prostitution to pay the bills or keep their family together. It’s heart wrenching, actually.

But am I the only one who sits here somewhat perplexed at the idea that so-called “sex work” is hitting hard times because of…fear of disease? What gives? Prostitution, fornication, adultery, and everything in between is, on its best day, a burgeoning cesspool of potential viruses, infections, and diseases.

The numbers are from 2016, but they make the point:

The rates of STIs are from 5 to 60 times higher among sex workers than in general populations. In addition to higher rates of STIs, sex workers are often unaware of their infection status, further endangering their own health risks and increasing the risk of infecting others with HIV and other STIs.

Given the suffering, as well as the mortality rates associated with some of these more serious infections, it would seem as though something like coronavirus would not cause those in the sex trade to balk.

Perhaps this simply is further evidence of the domino effect of the panic that is associated with a pandemic. But it’s still strange. Very strange.

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