Staff and clients

Good sexual health is important to sex workers because their livelihood – and your business – depend on it.

It is highly recommended that sex workers and other personnel are immunised against hepatitis B and (in some cases) hepatitis A, following consultation with their medical practitioner or local sexual health service.

To prevent possible transmission of STIs and other infections, you must provide necessary PPE (chapter 7) and appropriate information to your worker, including how to do visual health checks of clients, as well as information to monitor their own sexual health.

Conducting visual health checks of clients is essential, however it is important to note that over half of all STIs are asymptomatic (without symptoms) so sex workers and SSP owners and managers should understand visual checks are precautionary only – they are not a definitive diagnosis. Any client who displays signs of a possible STI should be immediately referred for medical consultation at a sexual health clinic or private general practitioner. The sex worker may, if they wish, offer an alternate service, such as hand relief using suitable PPE.

Sufficient condoms (in a range of sizes) and adequate lubricant should always be provided and used for insertive sexual services. Providing unprotected sexual services greatly increases the risks of contracting a STI. If a client requests that a worker does not use a condom, the worker has the right to refuse to engage in any sexual practice. Read more about your rights at work.

For sex workers, good sexual health is maintained by regularly visiting a doctor, health care centre or public sexual health clinic of their choice for sexual health assessment appropriate to their individual needs. It can include medical tests, counselling and education. A sexual health assessment is not an alternative to practising safe sex – nor does it mean immunity from an STI.

The frequency of sexual health assessments should be determined by the individual sex worker and their doctor.

NSW Sexual Health InfoLink (SHIL) provides free, anonymous, confidential and non-judgemental sexual health services and information for the NSW general public. Some public sexual health clinics have dedicated clinics for sex workers, as well as dedicated clinics with translation services for sex workers from non-English speaking backgrounds.

A sex worker is under no obligation to share their sexual health assessment records with anyone else, including SSP owners and managers. However, owners and operators may request the sex worker to provide a ‘certificate of attendance’ for the assessment.

A ‘certificate of attendance’ is issued by the treating doctor (in the name the sex worker provides to them) stating the date of attendance– it does not detail the results of the individual’s sexual health assessment, any diagnosis or medical information. The certificate is also the property of the individual sex worker so, if one is provided to management, it must be kept in a locked storage facility and must not be shown to clients or displayed anywhere in the premises.

Staff, clients, visitors and others must cooperate to meet their work health and safety obligations. They must use the equipment, systems of work and PPE provided, and must also take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of others in the workplace. A person who knows that he or she has a notifiable disease, or a scheduled medical condition, that is sexually transmissible is required to take reasonable precautions against spreading the disease or condition.

Reasonable access should be provided to staff from SWOP, sexual health services and other relevant health services. Sex workers and owners and managers of sex services premises in NSW must also be aware of their duties under the Public Health Act 2010.

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