Several signs of progress have occurred since the Baltimore Sun's recent series detailing the plight of drug-addicted prostitutes and their link to the city's rate of AIDS diagnoses, which is the nation's second-highest.
- Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the city's health commissioner, said health agencies will evaluate whether they are doing all they can to reach this population. In addition, they will consider how best to collect data to document the problem for policymakers.
- Claudia Gray, prevention chief at the Maryland AIDS Administration, said a meeting will be held to bring together several groups that serve female prostitutes. Officials will ask the leaders of those groups to detail their needs and the services they provide. Officials are hopeful this interaction will boost efforts to reduce prostitution and its impact on public health.
- Dr. William Blattner, co-director of the Baltimore City Commission on HIV/AIDS, plans to raise the issue of city sex workers at the group's next meeting on Dec. 14. He suggested some "tough questions" need to be asked about the city's response to the issue.
- As previously announced, the Health Department will in January begin dispatching a mobile van from which outreach workers will offer prostitutes HIV testing and referrals to services such as drug treatment and shelters.
- The state's attorney's office is advancing a plan to establish a weekly prostitution court next year. Sessions would take place in southeast Baltimore, and the court would handle all prostitution arrests in the city. Defendants may be able to avoid jail time if they accept referrals to treatment and counseling. Public and private agencies whose work includes housing, drug treatment or other related issues will be asked to furnish referrals and counseling.
Back to other news for November 2007