UBC Faculty Research and Publications

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 Anderson, S.; Shannon, K.; Li, J.; Lee, Y.; Chettiar, J.; Goldenberg, S.; Krüsi, A.


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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