George Soros’s Open Society Foundation has long been a proponent of the rights of “sex workers.” But the group was unhappy that the United States didn’t welcome them with open arms to the 19th International AIDS Conference.
The Washington Post mentioned the travel ban on sex workers in a negative light on July 19, in line with these sentiments. The Post finished up its story on the 19th International AIDS Conference with a shout out to “the situation of sex workers and intravenous drug users – two populations that have a high incidence of HIV transmission and who still face restrictions on entering the United States.”
The conference, which opened on July 22 with a march through downtown D.C., is being attended by many HIV positive from foreign nations, thanks to a 2-year-old repeal of the ban on HIV positive tourists. The ban on prostitutes and drug users, however, is still in effect. Soros’s Open Society Foundation faulted the United States government for not easing the ban on both of these groups, claiming that they were key participants in previous AIDS conferences held elsewhere in the world.
Open Society Deputy Director Jonathan Cohen wrote on July 9 that “Drug users and sex workers represent the majority of people living with HIV in many countries, and are among the most at-risk of infection everywhere. The irony of allowing people living with HIV to the conference while refusing those likeliest to be – or become – infected has not been lost on everyone.
Toward the end of the 2010 International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Indian activist Meena Seshu called for a boycott of AIDS 2012, making the self-evident point that it was unethical 31 years into the AIDS epidemic to discuss matters of AIDS policy in the absence of those most affected. But the response was muted.”
Soros has long been a proponent of decriminalizing of prostitution, which he refers to by its more politically correct moniker “sex work,” around the world. Open Society has voiced its wish for the American government to repeal its restrictions on both prostitution and human trafficking, even claiming that the legalization of prostitution is the best way to combat AIDS. The foundation’s website tells the sex worker side of the story, even complaining that they have their condoms taken away by police.
The six day AIDS conference ends on July 27.