Just the other day I had my latest STI tests done – both swabs and bloods. I like to get these done every month or two when I’m working, just to be sure. And then I get all paranoid. What if… I test positive for HIV (worst case scenario!)… I have thrush and have to take a day or three off work? And so on and so forth. And as I was getting all paranoid, I thought further… what if I do test positive for something… do I keep working? I mean sure, some things can be cured, others can’t… I don’t know all that much about cures and all that, I just use protection and get tested regularly!
A while ago there was a high-profile news case about a man charged with willfully infecting several people with HIV. I take it from this* that it is a criminal offense to have unprotected sex with someone if they do not know that one is HIV positive (if they know, and consent, it’s really their own stupid fault if they get infected!). And rightfully so.
Since I have not yet found any further info on the legality, let us for now focus on the ethics (and assume this scenario is legal):
If I tested positive for something, and continued to work, and use protection at all times, but did not disclose my positive status to clients, would that be wrong?
I’m not 100% decided on this issue yet… opinions would be appreciated!
On the one hand… no. Clients (technically) knowingly take on a risk in having sex with someone who has sex with a lot of other people. In the past four months, I have had sex with several hundred people. Condoms can slip and they can break, but (as far as I know, and please correct me if I’m wrong), they still offer the best protection against STIs. I’d say every client of a sex worker is taking a risk, and a greater one than if they were to have a random one night stand (provided the same levels of protection are used in both instances).
I would like to make a point here: as far as I know, by law I am not permitted to use results from tests I’ve had to claimto be STI-free. As a sex worker I pretty much have to let the client assume that I could have an infection. For all I know, I could. Infections can take at least two weeks to show up on a test, so each test won’t be able to pick up anything that I may have contracted in the preceding two weeks. Also, by the time I get my all-clear, I’ll have had more clients, and more chance to contract an STI. Hence, I can pretty much never know for sure, while I’m working. Not a very comforting thought!
However, if a sex woker knew for certain that she’s infected, even if she uses protection, should she tell the client? If she did, then she may aswell stop working, since she’d pretty much lose all her clients that way. But she knows that they are exposing themselves to a definite risk, not a potential risk of “she may be infected”, but “she is infected, and even with a condom, there is a, albeit small, risk of contracting the infection”. Isn’t it the same? Definite risk or no, there’s still the protection from the condoms.
I don’t know. I think if I were a client, I’d want to know, but then, knowing that there’s a risk whether I know it for sure or not may be all that would matter to me.
Just a thought: is it possible that the risk (or perceived risk) is lower with a sex worker, than with someone else? Even though we fuck more people, could it be that we’re more likely to consistently use protection and get tested regularly? I know I do, but I don’t really know about other sex workers… and I’ve heard about plenty that don’t use condoms, at least for blowjobs.
And by the way, I got my results on Friday: all clear!
* I havent actually been able to find any concrete information online tonight, but I intend to do some more research within the next week or so and will hopefully have an update soon. I’d like to know if this applies only to HIV or to other STIs too, and what about sex with protection? Do you still have to declare your HIV status?