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January 19, 1994

Why Isn't a Commercial Sex Worker a Prostitute?-Reply

JAMA. 1994;271(3):196. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510270042035

In Reply.  —We used the term commercial sex worker rather than prostitute advisedly in our article describing the epidemiology of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among young men in northern Thailand. While the term prostitute is certainly more colorful than the sterility of the term commercial sex worker (CSW), prostitute has a decidedly negative connotation. The reality of the lives of the women referred to in our article is one in which they sell sex for financial gain in various settings. While many work in brothels and are referred to as "direct CSWs" by the Ministry of Public Health's Communicable Disease Control office, many others also work as singers, waitresses, or masseuses. The latter are commonly referred to as "indirect CSWs."The motivations for engaging in this work by women are numerous but generally are based on a real need to obtain the economic resources necessary for everyday living, not