International News

Canada: Supportive Housing Improves Safety for Female Sex Workers

May 11, 2012

Female sex workers who reside in supportive-housing units feel more control over negotiating condom use and have less trouble with the police than prostitutes working the streets, a new Canadian study found. Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the BC Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS surveyed 39 FSWs living in Vancouver for the study.

The Atira Women's Resource Society and the RainCity Housing and Support Society (RHSS) run the FSWs' housing programs in Downtown Eastside under a harm-reduction model. The FSWs have a place to live and pay rent; what they do in their own units is their business. Security measures include female-only buildings, public surveillance cameras, onsite staffing, and sign-in for guests and clients.

The women reported less exposure to violence and diseases such as HIV when operating from the units, and more power to refuse unwanted services and avoid violent abusers. The FSWs interviewed from July 2009 to March 2010 were ages 22-58, and all reported a history of illegal drug abuse.

Leslie Remund, associate director of RHSS, said that under the program, a Vancouver police liaison makes onsite visits to build relationships with the women. In addition, an onsite advocate helps clients navigate the criminal justice system.

One interviewee who previously had reported feeling "paranoid" about the police said officers now greet her; another said she thought the police were pleased about the unit because it kept the women off the streets.

[PNU editor's note: The study, "Negotiating Safety and Sexual Risk Reduction with Clients in Unsanctioned Safer Indoor Sex Work Environments: a Qualitative Study," was published in the American Journal of Public Health (2012;102(6):1154-1159).]

Back to other news for May 2012

Adapted from:
Canadian Press
05.09.2012; Keven Drews

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.

No comments have been made.

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:

Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:


The content on this page is free of advertiser influence and was produced by our editorial team. See our content and advertising policies.