Jenny McCarthy & HIV

Sex Workers Anonymous (formerly Prostitutes Anonymous)
(213) 262-9810 Telephone

Press Release – Jenny McCarthy & HIV

Dear Ms. McCarthy:

First of all, please let me register my “fandom” of your work, your sister's work, your husband's work, etc. As someone who came out of Playboy and made a career for yourself outside of being a sex object – I have often referred to you as a “role model” when working with our newer members to show these members the endless possibilities of how they can leave a career in the sex industry in any fashion – whether that be posing for porn, stripping or even prostitution, I refer to people like yourself who have expanded their careers into one using their “other” talents such as your many talents for acting, comedy, modeling, etc. I've even pointed to your marriage when trying to convince some of our new members there are good healthy solid relationships out there where one's past isn't held against them.

I first came to live in Philadelphia, and Allentown, for a while back in 1989 when I was asked by the people in the region to come there to duplicate the work we'd done in Los Angeles. We formed the Program for Female Offenders because the tiny Allentown jail built for 200 inmates was literally stuffed with 2000 prostitutes – many of who were also suffering from HIV/AIDS at a time when such a diagnosis for a women often meant she was dead within a year or even less. These were causing a huge drain on the budget even and in seeing the success we were having on the west coast – ithe area nvited me to come back there to help. I left the area in 1990 to have my daughter. I hope is to move back there actually once I'm done with my work here in Los Angeles.

I agree Charlie Sheen “should be required to tell you he was HIV positive”. A lot of people felt that way when this virus was first raging in the 1980's. But you know Hollywood – everyone is worried not only about their marriages, and their “reputation” but also about their careers and even whole studios. As you also know, some of these film projects involve millions of dollars and employ sometimes 1,000's of people.

Which is why those of us working with this issue on the front lines back then knew that you could pass any law you wanted – it didn't mean that people were going to do the “right” or even 'legal” thing like tell you ahead of time they were sick, or even take precautions to protect your health. Knowing that real people just don't do that ESPECIALLY in Hollywood where the industry is built upon the hiding of many many “dirty little secrets” - laws were passed to protect people like yourself, and the many others who have been affected by Charlie's decision and behavior.

The first part of the steps taken was to require mandatory HIV/AIDS testing of all men, women and transgenders arrested for prostitution. For those who weren't in positions where they were going to find themselves arrested for prostitution, but were out there possibly spreading the virus - the mayor of Los Angeles at the time, Tom Bradley, put together an innovative board working together to create a revolutionary outreach to the sex industry as a whole. It was an outreach that reached out to the whole sex industry whether working in the illegal or legal side of the industry and also addressed the problem trafficking presented.

Traffickers in other words are going to put their prostitute out there on the streets, and if the customer requests to pay more not to use a condom, then that's exactly what they're going to force her to do.

I was very aware of Charlie's HIV status back in the 1980's because of a woman I wound up caring for who had the virus who came to our program once she found out she was sick. This was a woman who had known Charlie when they were dating in high school, and after breaking up from him became a high class escort. This I felt explained to me his fascination with them – but that's another issue .

This woman had been in a residential program to help her quit prostitution, but she couldn't stop escorting behind the back of the Reverend running the program. When she found out she was sick however that was a whole other issue. She therefore came to us for help. But at one point she became too sick to continue working at a “9 to 5” job. The 1980's was years before even sex trafficking received federal recognition. I'm working as a paralegal, she's an adult, and we can't even afford health insurance for her. She had turned to Charlie for financial help at one point – only to be turned away. Now through our work with Tom Bradley and this board – we were able to get her the care she needed.

But that left the issue of all the other prostitutes to be worried about now. Charlie was not alone. These escorts are selling the “girlfriend experience”, which is a nice term for “no condom” to a lot of people. People with wives and children. If you remember Paul Michael Glaser brought the virus home which resulted in the death of his wife and child even.

So knowing men like Charlie are still out there going on TV promoting the use of escorts almost like an “inphomercial” for other men to do the same, as well as escorts who think they're going to get big fat checks from men like him for their trouble who I'm hearing is ordering sometimes five escorts in any weekend – we had a practice in SWA to take new members down for HIV testing as soon as they come into the program. We aren't like AA where you just stop drinking. We have to plan a whole new future. One that's impossible to plan unless you know the health status of someone.

This combined with the various outreach projects going on reaching out to the sex industry itself was showing a true impact. Within one year in 1988 we had studies showing an 80 percent infection rate year later dropped down to below 8 % - lower than the figures for non-prostitutes. But then things began to change – change dramatically. When Las Vegas got a study back showing 80 % infection of their prostitutes – this was at the same time the legal brothels were trying to expand into where the Mob Museum now stands. Frankly, this result was to quote then Mayor Oscar Goodman “bad for business”.

That's when Vegas, and other cities who also wanted to make it APPEAR the HIV/AIDS rates were dropping started doing what's called a “hold” on prostitutes. Instead of arresting them for prostitution where they are then required by law to test them for HIV/AIDS – they put them in jail for 24-48 hours and simply “hold” them. There's not even a record created for them in the computer system. The reason for this is so researchers can't even get any type of accurate numbers for how many prostitutes there are based on arrest records to then compare with CDC rates of HIV/AIDS to try and get some estimate of how many prostitutes are out working in the industry (not just the streets) infected.

You'd think the HIV vaccine would have had us out giving it away to all sex workers, including those working at the legal brothels. Only something happened in 2003 to turn this whole field on it's head Jenny. In the process – it's created what I feel is another HIV epidemic that everyone is covering up. Something where even the author of the Trafficking Act of 2000, Michael Horowitz, has also said the movement has been “hijacked”. People who don't have our “best interests” in mind. To illustrate my concerns, there was a huge “No Such Thing” campaign kicked off in the media about a year ago. As part of this campaign, no juveniles were arrested for prostitution in 2015 in Los Angeles county. I've been taking a lot of heat for registering what appears to be the lone objection to this program but I'll explain one of the reasons WHY I objected.

Without those juveniles being arrested for prostitution – there is no mandatory HIV/AID tests being done that can be accessed without their consent as would be needed if they had a test done privately. But if those same juveniles were arrested and then were tested by the jail, then if found to be positive – an investigation then starts into who they could have infected for the sake of public health and safety.

Because we learned Jenny in the 80's people don't do the “right” thing. They don't even do the “legal” thing. Worse, some people are working out emotional issues at the expense of others like maybe an anger towards escorts they might be trying to kill off by infecting with HIV without one thought for who else is going to be harmed in the process. Which thankfully you didn't get – but who did?

So to try and protect people we combined approaches to cover all bases. Approaches that included not only taking those arrested for prostitution and testing them for HIV/AIDS, but also which included the police, courts, social workers, probation, the jails, and the health departments referring sex workers to Sex Workers Anonymous where we would then pair them with “sponsors”. Sponsors who would then personally make sure they got transportation to free HIV testing sites. Then if found positive – we were right there at “ground zero” to do everything necessary to make sure they stopped exposing anyone to any disease they might be carrying by making sure hey got the help they needed without fear of breaking their “anonymity” because our sponsors could speak for them.

Approaches that included funding for the hiring of HIV + ex-sex workers to go out doing outreach to find others. Only all of that was “hijacked” out from under us in 2003. Something we've been trying to get repaired through things like the ACLU v. Catholic Bishops lawsuit that was won, the Supreme Court decision that was won in 2012, and other steps we've taken to try and get back into the position where ANYONE in the sex industry, whether they identify as a “trafficking victim” or not, is included the system this country is trying to help on all levels – not just the pursuit of their pimp. But an approach that is concerned about all of the needs of these as they go through recovery.

But even after these legal wins, we STILL are being blocked from even being heard when I have a stack of emails from people within the major media who report to me they'll be fired if they even so much as print our NAME let alone anything we're saying. Which is the reason why I relocated back to Los Angeles last year is because we're seeing a HUGE upsurge in the number of those calling our program for help who are HIV + who are least are finding us by going onto Google.

People who are afraid to break their anonymity – and even worse being sued by someone like Charlie's legal team. Or Snoop's before his confession also. Now I ask you how we, or anyone, could report something like what Charlie was doing without risking be sued for defamation or even criminally charged with blackmail before he had said something himself? Knowing this, these members have asked me to speak out for them – only no one will even return my calls lately. Which means not a doubt in my mind there's a cover-up going on here on a very large level. Only now that maybe Charlie's made this confession and people aren't afraid of being sued or arrested or blacklisted – maybe I can get someone to talk to me about this issue.
Because while you were lucky not to be infected Jenny – I know others who weren't so lucky. The bottom line is there is a horrible problem going on right now with this virus from the reports I'm getting. I've been knocking on the doors of the AHF, the CDC, the health department, the media, and our elected officials – and I'm getting nowhere.

Maybe you can help me break this barrier. If you'd be willing to talk to me about this – of course your call would be confidential unless you said otherwise. Please contact me at the above.


Jody Williams


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