XIX International AIDS Conference


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MOPE342 - Poster Exhibition

Sex work, drug use and HIV: a critical global overview

P. Jakobsson

HIV-Sweden/Harm Reduction International, Stockholm, Sweden

Background: Harm reduction interventions for people who use drugs have been shown to be effective in safeguarding individuals' health, safety and human rights. Existing evidence and case studies across different geographical settings show that sex workers can benefit from harm reduction strategies in very much the same way. This presentation will discuss findings from the first synthesis of existing research on the intersection between drug use and sex work, and effective interventions available to address these. Results will be published during the conference in the Global State of Harm Reduction 2012.
Methods: A systematic literature search for published and grey literature was conducted to retrieve existing research on the prevalence of drug use among sex workers, types of drugs used, HIV prevalence and correlates of HIV transmission among sex workers who use drugs, and effective harm reduction interventions targeting these populations. A comprehensive consultation with key informers and leading organizations that target sex workers was carried out to retrieve grey literature and extract relevant case studies of evaluated programs.
Results: Evidence shows that sex workers who use drugs are one of the groups most vulnerable to violence, discrimination and HIV/AIDS. Discrimination and violence toward sex workers impact HIV-prevention, treatment efforts, health outcomes and safety. While many countries claim to provide HIV-prevention to sex workers this does not always include drug-related harm reduction strategies. There is a discrepancy between the number of people affected and harm reduction service coverage.
Conclusions: Ongoing collaboration is needed between harm reduction and sex workers' organizations to develop evidence-based services. Increased knowledge about sex work among harm reduction practitioners will benefit sex workers who use drugs and other more marginalized groups within the sex work community. Harm reduction provides a pragmatic approach that ensures that services to sex workers are low threshold and respect their human rights.

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