Journal Article

The lived experience of UK street-based sex workers and the health consequences: an exploratory study

Rebecca Mellor and Andrew Lovell

in Health Promotion International

Volume 27, issue 3, pages 311-322
Published in print September 2012 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online July 2011 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/heapro/dar040
The lived experience of UK street-based sex workers and the health consequences: an exploratory study

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The complex, difficult lives and subsequent health issues of street-based female sex workers are well documented. This paper explores the health needs of a group of sex workers in one geographical locality in the north-west of England. Interviews were conducted with a number of women currently engaged in sex work, with the aim of identifying factors maintaining them in this work and examining their experience of health and health-related services. A thematic analysis revealed considerable life circumstance complexity, with violence, drugs, alcohol and housing problems being prevalent factors. The combination of such factors compounds the likelihood of the women's social exclusion. Other themes related to the casual perception the women had of their own health needs, their generally poor experience of services and the demonstrable impact of one specific service in supporting a group so reluctant to engage. The study suggests poor understanding of the complex needs of street-based sex workers by both services and professionals, particularly a failure to engage with the reality of these women's lives and the factors that maintain them in this work.

Keywords: sex work; social exclusion; drug and alcohol use; Harm Reduction Service

Journal Article.  6684 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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