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The importance of designing and implementing successful targeted interventions for sex workers as part of HIV prevention and control cannot be over-emphasised. In almost every country, sex workers comprise a focal point of the epidemic. They are the victims of discrimination, often violently intense, trafficking, legal persecution and societal ambivalence as well as one of the first occupational groups to become heavily infected. The infection passes from sex workers back to their clients and into the general population of women, men and children. One of the clearest public health lessons emerging from the HIV pandemic is that protecting the human rights of sex workers is an important means of prevention.