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Peer-based outreach services for sex workers assist entry into detox and drug treatment
Date:10/12/2010

A mobile outreach program staffed by current and former sex workers is associated with increased entry to detoxification and residential drug treatment among women in street-based sex work, according to an evaluation led by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) and the University of British Columbia (UBC).

The study, recently published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, examined the link between accessing Vancouver's Mobile Access Project, or "the MAP van," and uptake of addiction treatment services by women engaged in street-based sex work who use drugs.

"Our study confirms that the MAP van is serving as the first and sometimes only point of contact for street-based sex workers working late night hours and in isolated spaces," said Dr. Kate Shannon, senior author of the study, director of BC-CfE's gender and sexual health initiative, and assistant professor of medicine at UBC. "Our results now clearly demonstrate that peer-based outreach by sex workers can also play a critical role in connecting women with health and support services."

The MAP van, a partnership between the WISH Drop-In Centre Society and the Prostitution Alternatives Counselling & Education (PACE) Society, functions as a nightly (10:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.) service run by women, most of whom are former sex workers. The van provides a safe space for sex workers to rest and have water, juice and coffee. Outreach staff members collect and distribute reports of bad dates; distribute prevention resources such as condoms, syringes, mouthpieces, and alcohol swabs; and provide referrals to health, support, and addiction treatment services.

The study interviewed 242 women in street-based sex work and followed them over a period of 18 months from 2006 to 2008. During this time, 42 per cent of women, or 102 women, reported using the MAP van. Women who accessed the MAP van were four times more likely to have entered d
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Contact: Brian Lin
brian.lin@ubc.ca
604-822-2234
University of British Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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