Sex workers as educators: networking HIV prevention strategies

Background: This study was initiated by Prostitutes Empowerment Education and Resource Society (PEERS) Victoria Resources Society as an opportunity to increase the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services for sex workers in the Victoria metropolitan area. The team will first summarize the scholarly literature on the topic of HIV/AIDS, other risk factors including substance use and sex work, as well as analyze relevant data on sex workers, clients, intimate partners and managers from a recently completed team grant research project on health and safety in the Canadian sex industry. The research summary will subsequently support the piloting of a peer-based knowledge exchange initiative led by sex workers which targets their personal and workplace networks. The project will additionally launch a training day for service providers. The training event will combine curriculum on emerging trends in research evidence linked to sexual and general health and violence and substance use harm reduction, as well as innovations in peer-based leadership.

Progress to date: The team first summarized the scholarly literature on the topic of sexual health and HIV/AIDS, other risk factors including substance use and sex work, as well as analyzed relevant data on sex workers, clients, intimate partners and managers from a recently completed team grant research project on health and safety in the Canadian sex industry. The research summary subsequently supported the piloting of a peer-based knowledge exchange initiative led by sex workers which targets their personal and workplace networks. The training portion and the intervention stage is completed. Various knowledge exchange strategies were organized, including a training day for health and social care providers. The training event combined curriculum on emerging trends in research evidence linked to sexual and general health and violence and substance use harm reduction, as well as innovations in peer-based leadership. The data collection is also completed and the team has submitted articles to academic journals. Further articles are planned and a further grant application for interventions across Canada based on the knowledge obtained so far in this project. A CISUR bulletin has also been prepared.

Researchers