Licensing and Regulation


Licensing workers and regulating brothels can manage many of the social problems attributed to prostitution. The brothel itself and all individual employed workers are required to obtain licenses prior to opening for business. To obtain a license to work as a prostitute, the applicant submits to an extensive background check, complete physical, and drug testing. The application fee covers all costs incurred during the application procedure. The licensing agency can then require sex workers to submit to frequent testing for diseases and drug use in order to renew the license, solving the problem of a worker who initially passes the tests and then does not keep current on physicals.

Severe penalties, including fines and incarceration, exist for the prostitutes who work without a clean bill of health. The brothel owners and management who knowingly allow this are also liable under county ordinances. Current brothel employees are generally supportive of testing as it provides a measure of assurance and allows for rapid treatment should they be exposed to a communicable disease (Brents and Hausbeck).


Regulating the brothels consists of ensuring that they employ mandatory condom usage and regular drug testing for employees. This prevents the two largest health risks for sex workers: disease and addiction. Because sex workers operating out of an organized brothel wield far more power than those working the streets do, they are able to insist upon protection for themselves and their clients.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health reveals that of the combined 3,290 clients of forty different legal sex workers, not one received penetrative sex without a condom (Albert and Warner). This information contrasts greatly with the realities of street prostitution. Women working without the protection of brothel management are often intimidated or forced to perform these same services without the benefit of safeguards for their health.