‘Social cohesion’ help sex workers say no to risky transactions: study (BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS)

The more female sex workers feel connected to their colleagues, the less they engage in risky transactions with clients who refuse to wear condoms, according to a new study urging the Conservative federal government to repeal its anti-prostitution law.

The study, presented Wednesday at the International AIDS Society conference, found a third of the 654 Metro Vancouver sex workers interviewed over a three-year period reported being coerced into letting a client perform vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom in the previous six months. Those activities can increase their risk of contracting and transmitting HIV, something that 12 per cent of the research participants were living with.

The ability of sex workers to organize and protect themselves will continue to be severely hampered by the Conservative government’s Bill C-36, passed last fall, which criminalizes the buying – not selling – of sex and pushes such workers into more dangerous areas and activities so they can protect their clients, according to the study’s principal investigator Kate Shannon, who works for the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

Mike Hager reports.

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