We’ve all seen the news, seen all of the stories shared on the Internet. The coronavirus is here, and it could be a serious problem. Doctors are worried about public health, Trump is worried about the economy, politicians are worried about the election. So what should Sex Workers & their clients be worried about?
As far as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are concerned, we should all be worried to some degree about this outbreak of coronavirus (also referred to as COVID-19). But are there any specific concerns that directly affect the Sex Work community? Short answer: yes.
According to the CDC website, COVID-19 can be contracted by being as little as 6 feet from an infected, contagious person. Obviously, Sex Workers & clients are going to be getting closer than that. While I have not seen an information directly speaking to transmission of this virus during sex, the close intimate contact that occurs during sexual activities is well within the danger zone for transmitting such a virus.
As of this writing, there are a little over 100 confirmed cases of COVIS-19 in the United States (a number that is expected to rise quickly as more testing occurs). This isn’t a very large number, especially in a nation well in excess of 300 million people. Many of the confirmed cases are people who contracted the virus while traveling to China or other hot spots, or people who had close contact with those that did. But the virus is spreading.
Should Sex Workers & Clients take a break?
I would say no. At this time we are not dealing with a massive spread of this virus. Right now it is more likely that a person in our community would get the common cold or the the flu. Preventing the spread of the coronavirus in our community is fairly basic: don’t see people if you are feeling sick.
Honestly, this should be a very basic idea for both Sex Workers and clients. If you don’t feel good, take a break from the sex.
This is definitely an easy decision if you are a client. No client should even be thinking of seeing a provider if they are feeling ill in any way. It can wait.
Admittedly, this can be a more difficult decision for many Sex Workers. The financial realities of providers, especially those financial situation has them living day-to-day, can mean that taking any time off results in severe hardships. For many workers a single day without a client can result in homelessness. Obviously there is no easy answer for Sex Workers in this situation.
As such, I feel that the biggest responsibility for preventing the spread of illnesses like the flu or COVID-19 in our community falls upon clients. Do not see providers if you are sick.
Overall, I think that a serious spread of COVID-19 in our community can be avoided. Though I do have one area of special concern:
Asian Massage Parlors represent a specific area of Sex Work that could pose a potential serious problem. This virus comes from China. It has spread through other parts of Asia. And the workers at AMPs are a potential problem. Many of these women are in the United States on temporary visas. They come, work for a while, and then go home. There is a potential risk that women came to the US from China (most AMP workers are Chinese), and could have brought the virus with them.
I have seen no information to indicate that any US cases of COVID-19 are connected to AMPs, but it is something that I consider worrisome. Considering the large number of AMPs in the US these days and their popularity, I can see a potential for serious risk to our community.
I advise that men avoid going to AMPs at this time. I think this is the best precaution we can take to help avoid this disease getting into our community. In the past when I was still frequenting such establishments I would often hear the workers coughing. Three years ago I caught a cold from a worker at an AMP. The environment of AMPs has a high potential for problems in this area.
Overall, I do not think we need to be overly worried about the coronavirus. Aside from avoiding Asian Massage Parlors, I think the only real precaution anyone needs to take is to not partake of sex work if you are feeling ill (which should ALWAYS be the rule). Time will tell if this becomes a true pandemic. If it does, I feel the Sex Workers will end up suffering financially from the effects of a massive outbreak of this disease. Hopefully that will not happen, but it is something we all need to think about.