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A recent paper in the British medical journal The Lancet suggests a controversial way to fight back against the disease's spread: decriminalize prostitution altogether.

Among female sex workers in Canada, HIV rates are highest for those who work predominantly outdoors (street prostitution) and "informally" indoors (finding clients at bars or hotels, for example).

In Los Angeles, protesters ringed the lobby of the Sheraton where the conference was being held, and as Muñoz tried to enter, a woman confronted her and became upset as Muñoz explained that, as a former sex worker, she supported Amnesty’s position.

“She agreed to respect my time at the microphone,” Muñoz told me. epidemic really exploded a lot of taboos,” says Catherine Murphy, an Amnesty policy adviser.

Members of the human rights group in Norway and Sweden resigned en masse, saying the organization’s goal should be to end demand for prostitution, not condone it.

Around the world, on social media and in the press, opponents blasted Amnesty.

Last December, the Canadian Supreme Court struck down laws that targeted sex workers, effectively decriminalizing prostitution.

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ast November, Meg Muñoz went to Los Angeles to speak at the annual West Coast conference of Amnesty International. Three months earlier, at a meeting attended by about 500 delegates from 80 countries, Amnesty voted to adopt a proposal in favor of the “full decriminalization of consensual sex work,” sparking a storm of controversy.

"'Police harassment' can mean anything from police raids to coercion and abuse," says Kate Shannon, lead author on the study.

"It can also result in enforced displacement — sex workers being forced to work in more isolated spaces, where they have less access to safety and protection." When sex workers are displaced to more obscure venues, they have less ability to control their business — from client selection to the types of sexual acts and condom use.

Twelve and 20 percent of those populations have the HIV virus, respectively.

Researchers think the rates are so high because when prostitution is a criminal offense, sex workers operate in more remote locations where they have less protection and less control over their work.

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