Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

Supportive housing may improve lives of sex workers


A team of researchers from the Gender and Sexual Health Initiative of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and the University of British Columbia (UBC) developed a model to illustrate how providing safe housing for sex workers can help these individuals practice safer sex on the job.

Authors of the study interviewed sex workers who had experience both in safe housing and outside of these protective walls. Unsurprisingly, the women reported having a better ability to refuse unwanted services, negotiate condom use and avoid violent individuals when in a safe house than on the street or in the client's home.

"We have previously shown that displacement and lack of safer indoor options for street-based sex workers are directly associated with elevated rates of violence and HIV risk. The evidence is clear: We need to scale up access to safer sex work spaces and remove legal barriers to their formal implementation and evaluation," said senior author Kate Shannon, Ph.D.

Safe housing for sex workers was defined as having women-only buildings, guest policies to track the clients who sign, video surveillance, staff tasked with alerting the police in case violence occurs, on-site health and safety resources, condoms readily available and records of bad clients, according to the researchers.

The women who were interviewed for the study said that safe housing reduces the anonymity and isolation that happens during transactions on the street, thereby allowing workers to identify clients with a history of violence.

One of the primary safer sex practices among prostitutes and pornography performers is regular testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STD). This not only helps prevent the spread of infection, but increases a patient's chances of successful treatment if an STD is detected.