A prestigious medical journal has declared that criminalizing the sex trade elevates the risk of HIV transmission.
The Lancet also reported that criminalization heightens the level of violence and abuse against sex workers from clients, police, and the public.
Moreover, the publication stated that decriminalization "would have the greatest effect on the course of HIV epidemics across all settings, averting 33-46% of HIV infections in the next decade".
"Such a move would also reduce mistreatment of sex workers and increase their access to human rights."
This is why the Lancet supports a draft resolution by Amnesty International to oppose the criminalization of the sale of sex between consenting adults.
The policy is being discussed at the human-rights group's international council meeting in Dublin, which continues until Tuesday (August 11).
"This policy does not change Amnesty International's longstanding position that trafficking into forced prostitution should be criminalised as a matter of international law," the proposed policy states. "Amnesty International considers children involved in commercial sex acts to be victims of sexual exploitation, entitled to support, reparations, and remedies, in line with international human rights law."
Amnesty International has come under fire for its proposal from antihuman-trafficking groups and Hollywood celebrities, including Meryl Street, Anne Hathaway, and Kate Winslet.
Another critic, actor and writer Lena Dunham, clarified her views in some recent tweets.
In another tweet, Dunham cited an article by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, an influential advocate against human trafficking.
Meanwhile, the Lancet stated that it's common to conflate sex work with trafficking.
The medical journal noted that this "ignores the evidence and clouds the issue of safety for sex workers—female, male, or transgender adults who exchange consensual sex for money and choose their profession without coercion".
The Lancet acknowledged that trafficking in sex workers does occur and it's "a gross violation of human rights that needs carefully designed interventions".
"Evidence also suggests that criminalisation of sex work does not reduce trafficking," it stated.
Canada's Conservative government has criminalized the sale of sex between consenting adults, causing an uproar among those who make their living in this industry.
Last month, the cabinet minister who introduced the legislation, Peter MacKay, joined Vancouver South Conservative MP Wai Young in Vancouver to announce $88,000 in federal funding for the Salvation Army's Deborah's Gate program "to help victims of human trafficking reintegrate into our society".
It's part of Ottawa's $500,000 annual spending commitment on "Canada's National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking".
Vancouver is where a serial killer, Robert "Willie" Pickton, preyed on survival sex workers for years before finally being arrested in 2002. He was convicted in 2007 on six charges of first-degree murder. The Crown later stayed charges of murder in connection with the deaths of 20 other women.
Evidence was entered in court that Pickton allegedly bragged in jail about killing 49 women.
During the recent televised federal leaders' debate, nobody mentioned the government's decision to criminalize the sale of sex or the potential impact that this could have on sex workers and HIV transmission rates across Canada.