COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

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COVID-19 is a virus that is transmitted in similar ways to a cold. It can be contracted through contact with or inhalation of droplets we release via our mouths and noses when coughing, sneezing or speaking. It can also be contracted through touching shared surfaces like door handles, table tops, or ATM screens with our hands and then touching our eyes, nose, or mouth. From what we know at this stage, COVID-19 is not transmitted through blood. The risk of transmission through faeces, semen, vaginal fluid or urine is not yet known.

COVID-19 causes illness unlike any other cold or flu. The virus, although having low fatality risk for generally healthy people, has infected people of all ages and there have been cases of people under 40 without complicating conditions dying of the disease, including children. For people who are living with complicating health issues, the risk of death is much higher and those people should be considered to be more vulnerable to the disease. Some examples of complicating issues include heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and low immunity such as those living with autoimmune disorders or HIV and chemotherapy patients.

The illness is not found more or less in people of certain racial backgrounds. Genetics does not appear to play a role. A person of Chinese, Italian, or Spanish background is no more or less at risk than you are. The virus does not discriminate, it is able to infect and be transmissible by all age groups, and is also for some carriers of the virus is asymptomatic.

Sex Work, Harm Reduction & COVID-19

If you are able to take time off from work, you should. However, we recognise for some sex workers this is not a reality. 

It is important that if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 you should isolate yourself and get tested. If you are concerned you may have COVID-19, you can call the National Coronavirus 24 hour Helpline for information and advice about COVID-19 on 1800 020 080. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.

If you do go ahead with a sex work job you should consider your screening, work practices, what services you provide and enhanced hygiene and cleaning measures as part of reducing the risk of COVID-19.

Steps in a booking where risk reduction can take place

Screening Clients

  • Ask if the person has been overseas or on a cruise
  • Ask if they have had a cough or flu-like symptoms
  • Ask if they have had any contact with people who are, or suspected to have the virus

If possible, do not see clients who have any of the following symptoms: cough, fever, headache, runny nose. 

Prepping your space prior to a booking

  • Surface cleaning with hospital grade disinfectant, soap and water, or a dilute bleach solution
  • Have a shower and scrub your skin well with soap – friction is key to breaking down the virus
  • Ensure you have plenty of clean sheets & towels
  • Ensure you have enough safer sex supplies (preferably single-use e.g. single-use lube sachets, disposable fingercots, etc.)
  • If you are using lube from a bottle, clean it thoroughly with soap and water to remove any lube before disinfecting

When you first meet them in person, in all locations

Most people with the virus do not have symptoms. However, if they turn up and have symptoms, you can ask them to leave. If the time period of face-to-face contact is less than 15 minutes and you have not been in “close contact” then the current information suggests you are at less risk. Definition of “close contact” is: 15 minutes of face to face activity less than 1.5m distance, or 2 hours of time together in a closed space without airflow with a person known or suspected to have COVID-19.

  • Symptoms to look for include: cough, fever, headache, runny nose 
  • You can use a thermometer
  • But remember: some people with the virus do not have symptoms

If the interaction has been 15 minutes or less, you will still need to:

  • Wipe down door handles and surfaces in the work area with disinfectant after they leave
  • Wash your hands and face with soap and warm water

If you have agreed to the booking and are going ahead in your own location

  • Washing hands as soon as they enter, or use hand sanitiser (if you have difficulty finding sanitiser as stocks have been low, then purchase 75% alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) and mix in aloe vera gel
  • Reinforce the 20 seconds for hand washing
  • Washing hands after touching money, and get them to wash their hands after they have handled their wallet
  • Clients should wash their face
  • Shower as usual
  • Management of clients’ clothes is different than usual – droplets can live in clothing and when a person is undressing, they are touching the droplets with their hands, then when they touch a surface it becomes a transmission risk. So hand washing after handling clothing is very important
  • Have wipes by the bed within reach
  • Tie your hair up to avoid having it come into contact with the client’s face, hands or bodily fluids
  • Avoid face touching, kissing (face, cheeks or lips) when possible
  • Avoid oral services if possible. If you are providing or receiving oral, ensure that the condom or dam remains secure. This advice is based upon the evidence for testing, as down the back of the nose into the throat is where swabs are currently taken for COVID-19 tests

You have agreed to the booking, in another location (street, outcall)

  • Use hand sanitiser and tissues around their face and on hands
  • After using a car or door handle, use hand sanitizer, you can use wipes imaginatively and clean the handle while you are there
  • Wipes (the ones that kill 99% of bacteria and viruses, not the ones that say “kills 99% of germs”) are useful in a car or around the location
  • Tie your hair up to avoid having it come into contact with the client’s face, hands or bodily fluids
  • If you are working in open environments, change blankets and / or cloth used on the ground or other surfaces after each job
  • Avoid face touching, kissing (face, cheeks or lips) when possible
  • Avoid oral services if possible. If you are providing oral, ensure that condom and dam remain secure. This advice is based upon the evidence for testing, as down the back of the nose into the throat is where swabs are currently taken for COVID-19 tests.

Services that reduce contact

  • All the skills and imagination that you usually use, spending time with the client in non-contact ways
  • Standing behind the client and bring them to climax, you can do extended handjobs this way without face-to-face contact
  • Gloves for face touching, get your sexy latex happening, Sorbolene cream goes well with gloves anywhere on the body
  • Remove gloves carefully after a job
  • Mutual masturbation from 1.5 metres away is another way to add some non-contact into the booking, will assist in following social distancing protocols
  • Toy play
  • Less affectionate services
  • Watching porn together
  • Play around with positions where you or your client is face down, to reduce shared breathing space
  • Single-use items (i.e. small lube packets)
  • Use mirrors
  • Offer massage as well/as opposed to full service
  • Think about creative ways to minimise clients touching you as much, hand ties and or mental constraint

Change up your bookings

  • Shorter bookings will reduce your risk of transmission (see definition of “close contact” below)
  • Cos-play, nurse and doctor fantasy, wipe them down as you are doing the activity
  • Instead of GFE, you could offer no/low contact services
  • Offering striptease or dance, so the booking can run smoothly with less contact

After the booking (stuff we already do, but here is a reminder)

  • Wash all fabrics that have had contact, preferably in a long cycle 
    • Don’t reuse towels
    • Don’t reuse sheets or pillowcases
  • Washing (soap and water) and disinfecting lube tubes, other surfaces
  • Washing (soap and water) and disinfecting all toys and tools
  • Wiping down door handles, showers and taps, light switches
  • Wiping down buttons on toilet
  • Have a thorough shower, put on clean clothes

After the booking (new stuff you might not be doing yet)

  • All clothes and fabrics involved in the booking need to be washed in hot water on a long cycle after the booking. Use gloves when handling fabrics
  • Where are you directing the person to walk through the space on the way to shower? This can be a new routine to avoid contact with surfaces. Retrace your steps then you will know where to wipe at the end of the booking.
  • Wash your hands after wiping down
  • You can wipe down lift buttons and door handles if you are in an apartment
  • Wipe down all money – notes & coins with disinfectant wipes or spray with a dilute bleach solution
  • DIY anti-viral wipes: baby wipes soaked in isopropyl alcohol/rubbing alcohol from chemist or Bunnings (must be at least 75% alcohol) in an airtight container

What situations or activities have risk?

  • Kissing, spitting and exchanging saliva
  • Sharing drinks
  • Sharing eating utensils
  • Sharing smoking devices such as cigarettes, vapes, pipes and bongs
  • Sharing items to snort drugs such as straws and notes
  • Sharing phones
  • Being in “close contact”

What is “close contact”?

When a person breathes, the moisture from their mouth, nose and chest are shared in the air around them. If they form into droplets there is a risk of virus transmission. Condensed breath when it forms a droplet (such as a telephone surface) is very contagious. A “droplet” does not float in the air, it’s not a gas anymore. A “droplet” is no longer “breath”, it’s a liquid.

Sharing air with another person is not enough for the virus to transmit. It requires what is known as “close contact.”

Definition of “close contact” is: 15 minutes of face to face activity less than 1.5m distance, or 2 hours of time together in a closed space without airflow with a person known, or suspected to have COVID-19.

“Close contact” is what you are avoiding.

Work online if you can

Contact your state and territory sex worker organisation for a list of sites you can sign up to. It’s a crowded space but check in with your local sex worker organisation about how you can make it work for you.

Why is this so important?

You want to reduce the risks to loved ones that are elderly, have heart disease, are a heavy smoker, have chronic asthma or lung disease, have ever been hospitalised for pneumonia, who have type 2 diabetes, or have compromised immunity (such as PWHIV or if someone is undergoing chemotherapy). For them, the virus can be deadly.

“Flattening the curve” means there will be enough hospital beds for the people who are most vulnerable. The above strategies will help you contribute to this. Flattening the curve is also why the governments are looking at ways to support people to work from home and also to protect workers and public health and provide access to payments for financial support.

Myths & Facts

MYTH: The virus is present in bodily fluids, pre-cum and cum (semen), vaginal fluids, urine and faeces.
FACT: It is present in a range of bodily fluids but in low concentration. The high-risk factor is that the virus is transmitted through saliva and mucous from the respiratory system. The risk of transmission through faeces, semen, vaginal fluid or urine is not yet known.

MYTH: PrEP or HIV medications will protect you from COVID-19.
FACT: Some HIV drugs have been trialled as a treatment for COVID-19. There is no current evidence to support the myth that HIV drugs are effective in treating or preventing COVID-19.

MYTH: Hot drinks, hot water, or mouth rinse will protect you. Drinks can wash away COVID-19 because your stomach can destroy the virus. A mixture of hydrogen peroxide and 50% water will be effective in eliminating the virus.
FACT: These are not being promoted currently as a reliable method of risk reduction. Until confirmed we are classing this as “unknown.”

MYTH: Periods of baking your body in the sun and remaining in heated climates or areas where the temperature remains on or above 25°C will kill the virus
FACT: This information is incorrect, the virus can survive in hot and cold temperatures that humans inhabit.