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"Sex work is essentially work." As South Africa hosted the International Aids Summit last summer, amid heckling from sex worker rights activists, Deputy Minister of Justice John Jeffery stated that only 241 criminal cases had been filed against sex workers in the past three years.

"[Prostitution is] currently illegal," Jeffery told Al Jazeera, however, "that's not restricting government from embarking on plans to assist sex workers, particularly with preventing the spread of HIV and Aids." Since 2014, the World Health Organization, UNAIDS and Amnesty International have declared support for the decriminalisation of sex work, to improve access to human rights, healthcare and reduce the risk of HIV, with reports from The Lancet medical journal suggesting that decriminalisation would have the greatest effect on HIV epidemics, averting 33-46 percent of infections over the next decade.

In downtown Johannesburg, a clinic run by the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute provides dedicated care for sex workers.

Last June, as part , the country became one of the first in the world to provide Pr EP, a prophylaxis pill that protects against HIV, free of charge to sex workers.Johannesburg, South Africa - In the shadow of an underpass, wearing a black bob wig, Tlaleng paces along her patch of Nugget Street, scanning the downtown Johannesburg traffic.Behind her, other women lead clients behind the crumbling walls of a gutted building in the brisk morning light."Even if she gets beaten by the police, I'll just make sure her vagina is safe; she's been raped, I'll make sure she gets [treatment]," Rasebitse mocks the limits of the national plan."You want to see me healthy, but my basic human rights aren't protected." "We're pretty confident regarding [Pr EP] adherence," adds Venter, "if the police behave themselves." READ MORE: Living with HIV - 'There is nothing to fear' Shaun Bibi, a paralegal and outreach worker with the Women's Legal Centre's sex worker project in Johannesburg, hands out "know-your-rights" leaflets, with the number for their 24-hour helpline to women along Nugget Street.

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