Background/introduction The stigma an individual experiences in relation to their occupation, gender identity, or sexuality adversely influences health and well-being. There is however, limited literature which explores the joint influence of both sex work (a highly stigmatised occupation), and a sexual minority identity on health states and engagement with services. Preliminary work suggested that such individuals face greater risk of ill-health, and of experiencing barriers to care.
Aim(s)/objectives To explore how LGBTQIA+ sex workers perceive their occupation, sexuality, and gender identities influence their health states and access to health care.
Methods Semi-structured phone interviews were conducted with sex workers who self-identified as LGBTQIA+. Purposive sampling of participants ensured individuals were diverse in their sexuality, gender identity, and type and duration of sex work experience. The data collected during these interviews was analysed using a thematic approach.
Results Seven interviews were conducted. It was apparent thatcontinuing social stigma directed towards sex workers and members of the LGBTQIA+ community perpetuates occupational hazards and acts as a barrier to accessing healthcare. Thepositive influences of a community of stigmatised peers in promoting engagement with health services was explored, including community information sharing networks and providing specific services inclusive to the needs of LGBTQIA+ sex workers.
Discussion/conclusion Whilst decriminalisation has reduced the stigma faced by many sex workers in New Zealand, disproportionate discrimination persists among those who identify as LGBTQIA+, negatively impacting health states. The utilisation of peer networks promoting access to healthcare within this community is requiring of further research.
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