20th International AIDS Conference - Melbourne, Australia

Abstract

MOPE299 - Poster Exhibition


Sex industry network - best practice sex worker organisation

S. Jennings

SIN SA, South Australia, Australia

Background: The Sex Industry Network (SIN) originated out of the Prostitutes Association of South Australia (PASA) which was formed in 1986 by a group of local sex workers as a reaction to the intense police harassment that sex workers in South Australia (S.A.) were being subjected to at that time. Despite sex work still being criminalised in S.A., SIN continues to offer the quality peer support, services and education that has been crucial to maintaining successful HIV and STI prevention for sex workers in SA.
Description: Throughout its history SIN has maintained a high degree of autonomy and is guided by its Programme Committee (PC), a group of local sex workers who meet monthly to strategise and discuss issues relevant to SIN and SA sex workers. Staff are recruited from the SA sex worker community through a peer recruitment process. SIN has specific projects led by peers from that community, i.e. a male, CALD and trans project as well as a Needle Exchange Program that provides services both on premises and during outreach, including on street outreach which is staffed by street based sex workers. Sex worker events, workshops, activism, social opportunities and dinners enable community engagement and capacity building. A safer sex shop provides quality, low cost supplies for sex workers and offers another opportunity for informal peer education. Community development approaches underpin all the work of SIN.
Lessons learned: SIN is by sex workers for sex workers. Sex workers have a shared experience of marginalisation and discrimination. We understand that effective HIV and STI prevention requires viewing sex workers needs holistically, and understanding that we have a range of emotional and material needs beyond our sexual behaviours. Our social and legal environment impact upon enablers and are barriers to HIV prevention.
Conclusions/Next steps: Community development, lobbying and advocating for change, education, creating safe spaces for socialising and affirmative action are all essential to effective HIV prevention. Sex workers determining program development, design and delivery, results in best practice approaches that have been proven to be successful, cost efficient and effective. Importantly community engagement and mobilisation ensures the sustainability of these responses.

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