Scientific community can help protect sex workers

11/29/05

The scientific community should take an active role in improving the day-to-day lives of sex workers by using evidence-based research to pilot harm-reduction strategies, assess existing approaches, and develop a database of proven interventions, states a review published online today (Thursday December 1, 2005) by The Lancet.

Sex work is an extremely dangerous profession that can involve drug-use and exposure to disease, violence, and exploitation. In his summary of peer-reviewed publications, Michael Rekart (University of British Colombia, Vancouver, Canada) concludes that proven harm-reduction strategies exist and can benefit sex workers. Successful interventions include peer education, training in condom-negotiating skills, safety tips for street-based sex workers, male and female condoms, and occupational health and safety guidelines for brothels.

Professor Rekart states: "The use of harm-reduction principles can help safeguard sex workers' lives in the same way that drug users have benefited from drug-use harm reduction…The scientific community can take an active role [in improving the day-to-day lives of sex workers] by using evidence-based research to pilot innovative initiatives, assess existing strategies, and develop a database of proven interventions. The participation of sex workers in this process will ensure its success."

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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