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RhEDSex WorkersThe Laws, STIs and Sex Work

The Laws, STIs and Sex Work

Section 20 (1&2) of The Sex Work Control Act (1994) states:

“ A person must not work as a sex worker during any period in which he or she knows that he or she is infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Penalty: 20 penalty units.

If it is proved to a court that a person worked as a sex worker during a period in which he or she was infected with a sexually transmitted disease, he or she must be presumed to have known that he or she was so infected unless he or she proves that at the time the offence is alleged to have been committed—

that he or she had been undergoing—

(i) regular blood tests, on at least a quarterly basis for HIV and each other sexually transmitted disease for which blood tests are appropriate; and

(ii) regular swab tests, at the time periods* determined by the Health Minister by Order published in the Government Gazette, for the purpose of determining whether he or she was infected with any other sexually transmitted disease; and

(b) he or she believed on reasonable grounds that he or she was not infected with a sexually transmitted disease.”

*Currently, time periods are three monthly for blood tests and swab tests.

Essentially this means that your defence against this charge could be that you have had three monthly blood tests and examinations to check for STIs, or that you honestly believed (on reasonable grounds) that you were not infected with an STI.

Another (non legal) reason for regular sexual health checks is to detect and treat STIs if they arise, as being sexually healthy enhances your ability to earn a living though sex work.

RhED does not support or endorse mandatory testing.

Owners and managers can be fined up to $5000 for being “presumed to have known” their worker/s were infected with an STI. The defence of owners and managers is that they believed the workers had regular medical examinations proving otherwise, or that the owner or manger believed on reasonable grounds that the worker/s had no STIs.


If you work for  an escort agency or brothel, similar laws (section 19) make it an obligation for owners and managers to monitor the health of sex workers who work for them.

No, you are under no obligation to provide details of your tests. Your results are confidential and for your information only. What most workers do is ask their doctor for a Certificate of Attendance. This certificate merely indicates that you have seen a doctor for STI checks. This certificate does not (make sure your doctor understands this) have any results printed on it.
If you are asked to take any such tests you have every right to refuse. Such a request is an infringement of your right to privacy. If you are worried about this kind of practice at your agency, contact RhED or a solicitor for advice.

Remember any information you do give your employer or brothel owner/manager regarding your health is confidential. Your employer/s or brothel owner/manager are obliged (by law) not to discuss or make available to others such information, without your consent.

Below is a list of public HIV and STI testing clinics in Victoria.

*Other clinics and doctors may charge for both HIV and STI testing. Best to ask first.


Melbourne Metropolitan

Dandenong Sexual Health Nurse

84 Foster Street
Dandenong 3185

T: (03) 9794 3175

Melbourne Sexual Health Centre

580 Swanston Street
Carlton 3053

(03) 9347 0244 or 1800 032 017

Royal Woman’s Hospital

132 Grattan Street
Carlton 3053

T: (03) 9344 2000

Royal Melbourne Hospital

Infectious Diseases Services
Grattan Street
Parkville 3052

T: (03) 9342 7000



Ballarat STI/HIV Clinic
710 Sturt Street
South Ballarat 3350

T: (03) 5838 4500

Bendigo STI/HIV Clinic

Seymour Street
Eaglehawk 3556

T: (03) 5446 8800

Geelong Sexual Health Clinic

Swanston Street
Geelong 3220

T: (03) 5226 4915
T: (03) 5226 4915 (Tuesday afternoon clinic)

Mornington Peninsula Hospital

Sexual Health Clinic
Hastings Road
Frankston 3199

T: (03) 9784 7777

Taralgon STI/HIV Clinic

Outpatient Department
La Trobe Regional Hospital
Princes Highway
Taralgon 3844

T: (03) 5173 8000

Wodonga STI/HIV Clinic

Vermont Street Health Clinic
81 Vermont Street
Wodonga 3690

T: (02) 6056 1589

For more information phone RhED 1800 458 752 or email
This information is of a general nature and does not substitute for legal advice.