I've found a number of articles claiming that legalizing prostitution is linked to lowed STIs. I could link a dozen other articles. Every one makes slightly different claims but they all seem to imply legalized prostitution leads to lowering the spread of STIs. Of course it's no surprise I can also find plenty of claims for the opposite.

So my question. What does the overall abundance of evidence say about whether legalizing prostitution leads to a decrease, or increase, in the spread of STIs amongst the general population?

I'm asking about the spread of STI across a country's entire population. There seems to be evidence that legalization decreases the odds of sex workers getting an STI but I want to know if that's limited only to sex workers or if it's true for the population as a whole.

I'm asking specifically about legalization of prostitution. I'd be interested in the effects of decriminalization of prostitution if one wants to include that in an answer, but the answer should not focus entirely on decriminalization to the exclusion of legalization.

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    Can you please provide some quotes from the articles in question with the statements you are asking about.
    – Joe W
    Oct 26, 2022 at 18:49
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    Afaik even in places where prostitution is legal (like the Netherlands and Belgium) it is used only by a fairly small proportion of the population so I would guess for the vast majority it has no measurable implication on STDs. Oh, and you write STI multiple times, do you mean STD as in your quoted articles?
    – quarague
    Oct 29, 2022 at 9:35
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    @quarague STI is a slightly more general term then STD, and tends to be the more 'preferred' term now of days to refer to the things we would label as STDs before, so I was intentionally trying to use the more preferred/general term of STI, however I'd still accept anything that specifically looked only at STDs, honestly while there is technically a difference between the two terms I don't think the difference matters much for the sake of this question, so feel free to pretend anywhere it says STIs it said STDs instead if you prefer.
    – dsollen
    Oct 31, 2022 at 13:50
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    Note that in countries where prostitution is legal, often is is regulated. This means that some mandatory testing and treatment is required to remain licensed. You might focus on the government funded / mandated testing and treatment. If you can find a study that focuses on the difference in transmission based on metrics of provided / promoted / required testing, you might get your answer divorced from the hot-button topic of legalized prostitution.
    – Edwin Buck
    Nov 3, 2022 at 14:28
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    @BrianZ the second link (first one 403s) leads to the Huffington Post article titled "Legalizing Prostitution Could Reduce HIV Infections Nearly In Half", which states "They[the researchers] found that infections could be reduced by 33 to 46 percent in those countries if prostitution were made legal, the Washington Post reported." That seems both notable and relevant - although it would be nice if the original WP claim could be tracked down. Nov 2, 2023 at 6:41


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