Arresting HIV: Fostering Partnerships between Sex Workers and Police to Reduce HIV Risk and Promote Professionalization within Policing Institutions: A Realist Review

December 2015 - Structural Prevention

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Tenni, B., Carpenter, J., and Thomson, N. PLOS ONE (October 2015), 10(10): e0134900, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134900, eCollection 2015.

This review highlighted examples of positive partnerships between police and sex workers or sex worker organizations to prevent HIV transmission and examined factors contributing to the success of these partnerships. Despite the continuing criminalization of sex work, there are examples in the literature in which programs that focused on sex workers collaborated with police to increase policemen's understanding of the sex industry, and to solicit police support in ensuring sex workers’ access to services. For example, the Resourcing Health and Education in the Sex Industry (RhED) program in Victoria, Australia uses a social model of health to promote physical, emotional, and social health among sex workers through harm minimization, health promotion, social inclusion, and community participation. RhED’s Ugly Mugs project liaises with local police to report and prosecute perpetrators of violence against sex workers. Another program, Thailand’s Sex Workers in Network Group, provides services for male sex workers in Bangkok, and includes an intern program for police recruits, designed to build mutual respect to enable sex workers to access prevention and treatment services without fear of arrest. The authors emphasized that developing police strategies, instructions, and standard operating protocols has been shown to have some impact in addressing HIV risk among key affected populations, including sex workers.

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