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Hustling for Health. Developing Services for Sex Workers in Europe
  1. Mary Stevenson
  1. The Guest Hospital, Tipton Road, Dudley DY1 4SE

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    Pp 83; Price 10 euros. The European Network for HIV/STD Prevention in Prostitution (EUROPAP/TAMPEP), 1998. Contact Judith Kilvington/Helen Ward, Coordinating Centre, European Network for HIV/STD Prevention in Prostitution, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Imperial College School of Medicine, London W2 1PG (tel: 0207 594 3315; fax: 0207 402 2150; email: europap@ic.ac.uk).

    How do you begin to address the sexual health needs of commercial sex workers (CSWs)? Here you will find (most of) the answers. This immensely practical book is essential for those setting up an outreach service, or simply wishing to know more about commercial sex work. It is the outcome of a series of projects and workshops, written by workers providing services to CSWs throughout Europe, and draws from the lessons learnt by these pioneering workers and clients. It is written with great clarity and frankness. The A4 layout is bold, imaginative, and attractive, with illustrations of promotional literature. Its European inclusiveness means that sadly it cannot be specific regarding, for example, the law as it applies to commercial sex. It does, however, give the broad framework with which providers must acquaint themselves wherever they work. It takes us through the steps; sources of funding, the scope of the service, useful contacts, where to make contact with CSWs, and so on. Importantly, in the current climate there are sections on evaluation and monitoring of the service, the legal and political context of the work, and dealing with the media. It stresses the heterogeneous nature of commercial sex workers whether male, female, or transsex, and the spectrum of commercial sex venues. Peer educator programmes are covered in some detail.

    There are fascinating pieces of practical advice—for example, cooperate with police, but don't be identified too closely with law enforcement. Advising police of your outreach vehicle's registration number may prevent you being stopped for kerb crawling!

    You can set up a flawless screening service and find only a few CSWs attend. The book reminds us middle class, health aware professionals that, for many, sexual health is not a priority. We are perplexed when faced with “indifference, hostility and self destructive behaviour”; that her next fix, a roof over her head, or the desire to have a baby might be more important to the CSW than the nebulous risk of HIV. Address some of these needs and you have the carrot to attract attention to and confidence in your service. The spin off is that clients can then benefit from STD screening and safer sex advice. Simply providing toilets and somewhere safe to have a cup of tea may be enough for some.

    I would have liked to see a further reading list, but this book fulfils its remit excellently.

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