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      Condoms and sexual health education as evidence: impact of criminalization of in-call venues and managers on migrant sex workers access to HIV/STI prevention in a Canadian setting

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          Abstract

          Background

          Despite a large body of evidence globally demonstrating that the criminalization of sex workers increases HIV/STI risks, we know far less about the impact of criminalization and policing of managers and in-call establishments on HIV/STI prevention among sex workers, and even less so among migrant sex workers.

          Methods

          Analysis draws on ethnographic fieldwork and 46 qualitative interviews with migrant sex workers, managers and business owners of in-call sex work venues in Metro Vancouver, Canada.

          Results

          The criminalization of in-call venues and third parties explicitly limits sex workers’ access to HIV/STI prevention, including manager restrictions on condoms and limited onsite access to sexual health information and HIV/STI testing. With limited labour protections and socio-cultural barriers, criminalization and policing undermine the health and human rights of migrant sex workers working in –call venues.

          Conclusions

          This research supports growing evidence-based calls for decriminalization of sex work, including the removal of criminal sanctions targeting third parties and in-call venues, alongside programs and policies that better protect the working conditions of migrant sex workers as critical to HIV/STI prevention and human rights.

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          Most cited references48

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          Social and structural violence and power relations in mitigating HIV risk of drug-using women in survival sex work.

          High rates of violence among street-level sex workers have been described across the globe, while in cities across Canada the disappearance and victimization of drug-using women in survival sex work is ongoing. Given the pervasive levels of violence faced by sex workers over the last decades, and extensive harm reduction and HIV prevention efforts operating in Vancouver, Canada, this research aimed to explore the role of social and structural violence and power relations in shaping the HIV risk environment and prevention practices of women in survival sex work. Through a participatory-action research project, a series of focus group discussions were conceptualized and co-facilitated by sex workers, community and research partners with a total of 46 women in early 2006. Based on thematic, content and theoretical analysis, the following key factors were seen to both directly and indirectly mediate women's agency and access to resources, and ability to practice HIV prevention and harm reduction: at the micro-level, boyfriends as pimps and the 'everyday violence' of bad dates; at the meso-level, a lack of safe places to take dates, and adverse impacts of local policing; and at the macro-level, dopesickness and the need to sell sex for drugs. Analysis of the narratives and daily lived experiences of women sex workers highlight the urgent need for a renewed HIV prevention strategy that moves beyond a solely individual-level focus to structural and environmental interventions, including legal reforms, that facilitate 'enabling environments' for HIV prevention.
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            A community empowerment approach to the HIV response among sex workers: effectiveness, challenges, and considerations for implementation and scale-up.

            A community empowerment-based response to HIV is a process by which sex workers take collective ownership of programmes to achieve the most effective HIV outcomes and address social and structural barriers to their overall health and human rights. Community empowerment has increasingly gained recognition as a key approach for addressing HIV in sex workers, with its focus on addressing the broad context within which the heightened risk for infection takes places in these individuals. However, large-scale implementation of community empowerment-based approaches has been scarce. We undertook a comprehensive review of community empowerment approaches for addressing HIV in sex workers. Within this effort, we did a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of community empowerment in sex workers in low-income and middle-income countries. We found that community empowerment-based approaches to addressing HIV among sex workers were significantly associated with reductions in HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and with increases in consistent condom use with all clients. Despite the promise of a community-empowerment approach, we identified formidable structural barriers to implementation and scale-up at various levels. These barriers include regressive international discourses and funding constraints; national laws criminalising sex work; and intersecting social stigmas, discrimination, and violence. The evidence base for community empowerment in sex workers needs to be strengthened and diversified, including its role in aiding access to, and uptake of, combination interventions for HIV prevention. Furthermore, social and political change are needed regarding the recognition of sex work as work, both globally and locally, to encourage increased support for community empowerment responses to HIV.
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              Declines in risk behaviour and sexually transmitted infection prevalence following a community-led HIV preventive intervention among female sex workers in Mysore, India.

              To investigate the impact on sexual behaviour and sexually transmitted infections (STI) of a comprehensive community-led intervention programme for reducing sexual risk among female sex workers (FSW) in Mysore, India. The key programme components were: community mobilization and peer-mediated outreach; increasing access to and utilization of sexual health services; and enhancing the enabling environment to support programme activities. Two cross-sectional surveys among random samples of FSW were conducted 30 months apart, in 2004 and 2006. Of over 1000 women who sell sex in Mysore city, 429 participated in the survey at baseline and 425 at follow-up. The median age was 30 years, median duration in sex work 4 years, and the majority were street based (88%). Striking increases in condom use were seen between baseline and follow-up surveys: condom use at last sex with occasional clients was 65% versus 90%, P < 0001; with repeat clients 53% versus 66%, P < 0.001; and with regular partners 7% versus 30%, P < 0.001. STI prevalence declined from baseline to follow-up: syphilis 25% versus 12%, P < 0.001; trichomonas infection 33% versus 14%, P < 0.001; chlamydial infection 11% versus 5%, P = 0.001; gonorrhoea 5% versus 2%, P = 0.03. HIV prevalence remained stable (26% versus 24%), and detuned assay testing suggested a decline in recent HIV infections. This comprehensive HIV preventive intervention empowering FSW has resulted in striking increases in reported condom use and a concomitant reduction in the prevalence of curable STI. This model should be replicated in similar urban settings across India.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (604) 804-9459 , gshi@cfenet.ubc.ca
                Journal
                BMC Int Health Hum Rights
                BMC Int Health Hum Rights
                BMC International Health and Human Rights
                BioMed Central (London )
                1472-698X
                17 November 2016
                17 November 2016
                2016
                : 16
                : 30
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Gender and Sexual Health Initiative, British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, St. Paul’s Hospital, 608-1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6 Canada
                [2 ]Faculty of Medicine, Univeristy of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3 Canada
                Article
                104
                10.1186/s12914-016-0104-0
                5114757
                27855677
                0a702722-3aaa-4718-897b-d9e26294de96
                © The Author(s). 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                History
                : 1 March 2016
                : 9 November 2016
                Funding
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100000026, National Institute on Drug Abuse;
                Award ID: R01DA033147
                Award Recipient :
                Categories
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2016

                Health & Social care
                migrant sex workers,criminalization,third party actors,hiv/aids,sexual health
                Health & Social care
                migrant sex workers, criminalization, third party actors, hiv/aids, sexual health

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