HIV Criminalization and Sex Work in California
by Amira Hasenbush, JD, MPH, Bianca D.M Wilson, PhD
Ayako Miyashita, JD, Madeleine Sharp, JD
The vast majority of all HIV-specific criminal incidents in California involve people engaged in sex work or those suspected of engaging in sex work. A new report finds that women—and Black women, in particular—are the most disproportionately impacted by California’s sex work laws, both as they apply to people living with HIV and people not living with HIV.
Analyzing California criminal justice data from 2005 to 2013, researchers found that while women made up half of the population of California, they accounted for two-thirds of prostitution arrests. In the same time period, Black women made up 4% of all HIV-positive women in California but accounted for an average of 22% of the arrests for felony solicitation while HIV-positive, making them the most overrepresented group for this type of arrest.