Press release

Criminalisation has hurt sex workers and perpetuated the AIDS pandemic. UNAIDS welcomes South Africa's call to end it.

Responding to the decision of South Africa's Cabinet to propose a Bill that will repeal criminalisation of sex work, UNAIDS Country Director Eva Kiwango said:

"The evidence is clear: Criminalisation has been proven to have increased the risks faced by South Africa's sex workers, hurt their health and safety, and obstructed South Africa's HIV response.

UNAIDS welcomes South Africa's Cabinet's proposal to repeal criminalisation and to protect sex workers against abuse and exploitation.

Criminalisation has impeded South African sex workers' access to vital health-care services, including effective HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.

To end AIDS, we need to repeal the harmful punitive laws which are perpetuating the pandemic. To save lives, decriminalise."

Note: The statement by South Africa's Cabinet on their agreement to propose repeal of criminalisation is published at under "Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill of 2022". The Bill will now be published for public comment.


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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