A sex worker is anyone who earns their living by providing sexual services. Some use this term to mean only prostitution, although the term is also used by others to refer to other workers in the sex industry such as porn actors, striptease dancers and performers in peep shows, live sex shows, professional dominants, providers of erotic massage and phone sex workers.
In the US and other countries, there have been several efforts in recent years to gain legal recognition for sex workers. In the Netherlands, Germany and New Zealand, sex workers already enjoy recognition by the state. The term "sex worker" is primarily used among people who support these protections. It is also used by public health workers who are trying to prevent or reduce the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among these workers and their clients.