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1.  THE LANCET SERIES ON HIV IN SEX WORKERS; PAPER 4 BURDEN AND HIV IMPACT OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST SEX WORKERS 
Lancet  2014;385(9963):186-199.
We reviewed evidence from over 800 studies and reports on the burden and HIV impact of human rights abuses against sex workers across policy climates. Published research documents widespread abuses of human rights perpetrated by both state and non-state actors. Such violations facilitate HIV vulnerability, both directly and indirectly, and undermine effective HIV prevention and intervention efforts. Violations include homicide, physical and sexual violence from law enforcement, clients and intimate partners, unlawful arrest and detention, discrimination in accessing health services, and forced HIV testing. Abuses occur across all policy regimes, though most profoundly so where sex work is criminalized through punitive law. Protection of sex workers’ human rights is critical to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, and to improve their health and wellbeing. Findings affirm the value of rights-based HIV responses for sex workers, and underscore the obligation of states to uphold the rights of this marginalized population.
doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60800-X
PMCID: PMC4454473  PMID: 25059943
2.  Criminalisation of clients: reproducing vulnerabilities for violence and poor health among street-based sex workers in Canada—a qualitative study 
BMJ Open  2014;4(6):e005191.
Objectives
To explore how criminalisation and policing of sex buyers (clients) rather than sex workers shapes sex workers’ working conditions and sexual transactions including risk of violence and HIV/sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Design
Qualitative and ethnographic study triangulated with sex work-related violence prevalence data and publicly available police statistics.
Setting
Vancouver, Canada, provides a unique opportunity to evaluate the impact of policies that criminalise clients as the local police department adopted a sex work enforcement policy in January 2013 that prioritises sex workers’ safety over arrest, while continuing to target clients.
Participants
26 cisgender and 5 transgender women who were street-based sex workers (n=31) participated in semistructured interviews about their working conditions. All had exchanged sex for money in the previous 30 days in Vancouver.
Outcome measures
Thematic analysis of interview transcripts and ethnographic field notes focused on how police enforcement of clients shaped sex workers’ working conditions and sexual transactions, including risk of violence and HIV/STIs, over an 11-month period postpolicy implementation (January–November 2013).
Results
Sex workers’ narratives and ethnographic observations indicated that while police sustained a high level of visibility, they eased charging or arresting sex workers and showed increased concern for their safety. However, participants’ accounts and police statistics indicated continued police enforcement of clients. This profoundly impacted the safety strategies sex workers employed. Sex workers continued to mistrust police, had to rush screening clients and were displaced to outlying areas with increased risks of violence, including being forced to engage in unprotected sex.
Conclusions
These findings suggest that criminalisation and policing strategies that target clients reproduce the harms created by the criminalisation of sex work, in particular, vulnerability to violence and HIV/STIs. The current findings support decriminalisation of sex work to ensure work conditions that support the health and safety of sex workers in Canada and globally.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005191
PMCID: PMC4054637  PMID: 24889853
Sex work; Violence; Sexual Health; HIV/AIDS; Law
3.  Sex work and the 2010 FIFA World Cup: time for public health imperatives to prevail 
Background
Sex work is receiving increased attention in southern Africa. In the context of South Africa's intense preparation for hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, anxiety over HIV transmission in the context of sex work has sparked debate on the most appropriate legal response to this industry.
Discussion
Drawing on existing literature, the authors highlight the increased vulnerability of sex workers in the context of the HIV pandemic in southern Africa. They argue that laws that criminalise sex work not only compound sex workers' individual risk for HIV, but also compromise broader public health goals. International sporting events are thought to increase demand for paid sex and, particularly in countries with hyper-endemic HIV such as South Africa, likely to foster increased HIV transmission through unprotected sex.
Summary
The 2010 FIFA World Cup presents a strategic opportunity for South Africa to respond to the challenges that the sex industry poses in a strategic and rights-based manner. Public health goals and growing evidence on HIV prevention suggest that sex work is best approached in a context where it is decriminalised and where sex workers are empowered. In short, the authors argue for a moratorium on the enforcement of laws that persecute and victimise sex workers during the World Cup period.
doi:10.1186/1744-8603-6-1
PMCID: PMC2829543  PMID: 20181213
4.  Operationalising sexual and reproductive health and rights in sub-Saharan Africa: constraints, dilemmas and strategies 
Background
The continued poor sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa highlight the difficulties in reforming policies and laws, and implementing effective programmes. This paper uses one international and two national case studies to reflect on the challenges, dilemmas and strategies used in operationalising sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in different African contexts.
Methods
The international case study focuses on the progress made by African countries in implementing the African Union’s Maputo Plan of Action (for the Operationalisation of the Continental Policy Framework for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights) and the experiences of state and non-state stakeholders in this process. The case was developed from an evaluation report of the progress made by nine African countries in implementing the Plan of Action, qualitative interviews exploring stakeholders’ experiences and perceptions of the operationalisation of the plan (carried out as part of the evaluation) in Botswana and Nigeria, and authors’ reflections. The first national case study explores the processes involved in influencing Ghana’s Domestic Violence Act passed in 2007; developed from a review of scientific papers and organisational publications on the processes involved in influencing the Act, qualitative interview data and authors’ reflections. The second national case study examines the experiences with introducing the 2006 Sexual Offences Act in Kenya, and it is developed from organisational publications on the processes of enacting the Act and a review of media reports on the debates and passing of the Act.
Results
Based on the three cases, we argue that prohibitive laws and governments’ reluctance to institute and implement comprehensive rights approaches to SRH, lack of political leadership and commitment to funding SRHR policies and programmes, and dominant negative cultural framing of women’s issues present the major obstacles to operationalising SRH rights. Analysis of successes points to the strategies for tackling these challenges, which include forming and working through strategic coalitions, employing strategic framing of SRHR issues to counter opposition and gain support, collaborating with government, and employing strategic opportunism.
Conclusion
The strategies identified show future pathways through which challenges to the realisation of SRHR in Africa can be tackled.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S3-S8
PMCID: PMC3287464  PMID: 22376197
5.  Human rights abuses and collective resilience among sex workers in four African countries: a qualitative study 
Background
Sex work is a criminal offence, virtually throughout Africa. This criminalisation and the intense stigma attached to the profession shapes interactions between sex workers and their clients, family, fellow community members, and societal structures such as the police and social services.
Methods
We explore the impact of violence and related human rights abuses on the lives of sex workers, and how they have responded to these conditions, as individuals and within small collectives. These analyses are based on data from 55 in-depth interviews and 12 focus group discussions with female, male and transgender sex workers in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Data were collected by sex worker outreach workers trained to conduct qualitative research among their peers.
Results
In describing their experiences of unlawful arrests and detention, violence, extortion, vilification and exclusions, participants present a picture of profound exploitation and repeated human rights violations. This situation has had an extreme impact on the physical, mental and social wellbeing of this population. Overall, the article details the multiple effects of sex work criminalisation on the everyday lives of sex workers and on their social interactions and relationships. Underlying their stories, however, are narratives of resilience and resistance. Sex workers in our study draw on their own individual survival strategies and informal forms of support and very occasionally opt to seek recourse through formal channels. They generally recognize the benefits of unified actions in assisting them to counter risks in their environment and mobilise against human rights violations, but note how the fluctuant and stigmatised nature of their profession often undermines collective action.
Conclusions
While criminal laws urgently need reform, supporting sex work self-organisation and community-building are key interim strategies for safeguarding sex workers’ human rights and improving health outcomes in these communities. If developed at sufficient scale and intensity, sex work organisations could play a critical role in reducing the present harms caused by criminalisation and stigma.
doi:10.1186/1744-8603-9-33
PMCID: PMC3750273  PMID: 23889941
Sex work; Prostitution; Violence; Human rights; Resilience; Kenya; South Africa; Uganda; Zimbabwe
6.  Arresting HIV: Fostering Partnerships between Sex Workers and Police to Reduce HIV Risk and Promote Professionalization within Policing Institutions: A Realist Review 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0134900.
In many countries around the world sex work is criminalised and its regulatory control is therefore often in the hands of the police. In addition to the impact of this criminalised legal environment, much literature describes the negative impact that certain police practices can have on the ability of sex workers and the programs that work with sex workers to access essential HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services. This situation has resulted in persistent concentrated HIV epidemics among sex workers in many countries of the world. The need for multi-sector partnerships between police and HIV programs is increasingly recognised in various UN declarations and resolutions yet descriptions of the process or key ingredients required to actually establish and sustain these necessary partnerships between police and sex workers [or the programs that provide essential services to sex workers] are sparse. The paper seeks to establish key considerations and critical processes that are required to foster partnerships that if further investigated and scaled up, could result in an enhanced enabling environment for the provision of essential HIV services for sex workers around the globe. This paper is based on a realist review that investigated isolated examples of partnership formation between law enforcement and HIV programs working with sex workers. This methodology research is designed to work with complex social interventions and is based on the emerging 'realist' approach to evaluation. A realist review methodology was chosen given the paucity of relevant literature in this vein and the authors’ familiarity with the grey literature and relationships with experts who work in this sphere. The review found that political and police leadership, civil society strengthening and police reform in relation to HIV, are critical factors and key ingredients in changing the enabling environment in which sex work takes place to ensure that HIV prevention, individual and public health as well as HIV prevention and the promotion of human rights are the number one priority. Further research into this relationship is needed to provide evidence for effective HIV programming with police.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0134900
PMCID: PMC4619424  PMID: 26488904
7.  Work environments and HIV prevention: a qualitative review and meta-synthesis of sex worker narratives 
BMC Public Health  2015;15:1241.
Background
Sex workers (SWs) experience a disproportionately high burden of HIV, with evidence indicating that complex and dynamic factors within work environments play a critical role in mitigating or producing HIV risks in sex work. In light of sweeping policy efforts to further criminalize sex work globally, coupled with emerging calls for structural responses situated in labour and human-rights frameworks, this meta-synthesis of the qualitative and ethnographic literature sought to examine SWs’ narratives to elucidate the ways in which physical, social and policy features of diverse work environments influence SWs’ agency to engage in HIV prevention.
Methods
We conducted a meta-synthesis of qualitative and ethnographic studies published from 2008 to 2014 to elucidate SWs’ narratives and lived experiences of the complex and nuanced ways in which physical, social, and policy features of indoor and outdoor work environments shape HIV prevention in the sex industry.
Results
Twenty-four qualitative and/or ethnographic studies were included in this meta-synthesis. SWs’ narratives revealed the nuanced ways that physical, social, and policy features of work environments shaped HIV risk and interacted with macrostructural constraints (e.g., criminalization, stigma) and community determinants (e.g., sex worker empowerment initiatives) to shape SWs’ agency in negotiating condom use. SWs’ narratives revealed the ways in which the existence of occupational health and safety standards in indoor establishments, as well as protective practices of third parties (e.g., condom promotion) and other SWs/peers were critical ways of enhancing safety and sexual risk negotiation within indoor work environments. Additionally, working in settings where negative interactions with law enforcement were minimized (e.g., working in decriminalized contexts or environments in which peers/managers successfully deterred unjust policing practices) was critical for supporting SWs’ agency to negotiate HIV prevention.
Conclusions
Policy reforms to remove punitive approaches to sex work, ensure supportive workplace standards and policies, and foster SWs’ ability to work collectively are recommended to foster the realization of SWs’ health and human rights across diverse settings. Future qualitative and mixed-methods research is recommended to ensure that HIV policies and programmes are grounded in SWs’ voices and realities, particularly in more under-represented regions such as Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2491-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2491-x
PMCID: PMC4681074  PMID: 26672756
Sex work; HIV; Sexual risk; Structural determinants; Work environment; Meta-synthesis; Criminalization; Occupational health; Peer support; Third parties
8.  Enhancing the Ethical Conduct of HIV Research with Migrant Sex Workers: Human Rights, Policy, and Social Contextual Influences 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(5):e0155048.
Background
Migrant sex workers are often highly marginalized and disproportionately experience health and social inequities, including high prevalence of HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and human rights violations. In recent years, research involving migrant sex workers has increased, yet many knowledge gaps remain regarding how best to protect research participant rights and welfare. Our objective was to identify key challenges and opportunities related to the responsible conduct of HIV research with migrant sex workers.
Methods
Focus groups and interviews conducted with 33 female sex workers ≥18 years old at the Guatemala-Mexico border from June 2013–February 2014 were analyzed. Participants were recruited through community outreach by a local HIV prevention organization to sex work establishments such as bars, hotels, street corners, and truck stops.
Results
Key themes influencing research engagement for migrant sex workers included researcher mistrust and fear related to research participation, rooted in the social isolation frequently faced by recent migrants; intersecting concerns related to immigration status, fear of criminalization, and compliance with sex work regulations; and perceived benefits and risks of HIV/STI testing for migrants (e.g., immigration implications, stigma) represent potential barriers and opportunities for the responsible conduct of research involving migrant sex workers.
Conclusions
Results highlight the intersection between the human rights vulnerabilities of migrant sex workers and barriers to research participation, including social isolation of migrants and policy/legal barriers related to immigration and sex work. Findings illustrate the need for researchers to develop population-tailored procedures to address fears related to immigration and criminalization, and to reinforce positive and non-stigmatizing relationships with migrant sex workers. Community-led efforts to reduce stigma and foster community organization and supports for migrant sex workers are recommended, as are broader policy shifts that move away from punitive legal approaches towards approaches that safeguard and prioritize the human rights of migrant sex workers.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0155048
PMCID: PMC4861265  PMID: 27159157
9.  ‘Disrespectful men, disrespectable women’: Men’s perceptions on heterosexual relationships and premarital sex in a Sri Lankan Free Trade Zone - a qualitative interview study 
Background
Gender norms have been challenged by unmarried rural women’s migration for employment to urban Sri Lankan Free Trade Zones (FTZ). Men are described as looking for sexual experiences among the women workers, who are then accused of engaging in premarital sex, something seen as taboo in this context. Increased sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) risks for women workers are reported. To improve SRHR it is important to understand the existing gender ideals that shape these behaviours. This qualitative study explores men’s perspectives on gender relations in an urban Sri Lankan FTZ, with a focus on heterosexual relationships and premarital sex. Further, possible implications for SRHR of women workers in FTZs are discussed.
Methods
Eighteen qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with men living or working in an urban Sri Lankan FTZ and were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results
Two conflicting constructions of masculinity; the ‘disrespectful womaniser’ and the ‘respectful partner’, were discerned. The ‘disrespectful womaniser’ was perceived to be predominant and was considered immoral while the ‘respectful partner’ was considered to be less prevalent, but was seen as morally upright. The migrant women workers’ moral values upon arrival to the FTZ were perceived to deteriorate with time spent in the FTZ. Heterosexual relationships and premarital sex were seen as common, however, ideals of female respectability and secrecy around premarital sex were perceived to jeopardize contraceptive use and thus counteract SRHR.
Conclusion
The ‘disrespectful’ masculinity revealed in the FTZ is reflective of the patriarchal Sri Lankan society that enables men’s entitlement and sexual domination over women. Deterioration of men’s economic power and increase of women’s economic and social independence may also be important aspects contributing to men’s antagonistic attitudes towards women. The promotion of negative attitudes towards women is normalized through masculine peer pressure. This and ambivalence towards women’s premarital sex are undermining the SRHR and well-being of women, but also men, in the FTZ. Awareness and counteraction of destructive gender power relations are essential for the improvement of the SRHR of women and men in the FTZ and the surrounding society.
doi:10.1186/s12914-015-0040-4
PMCID: PMC4346104  PMID: 25889367
Masculinity; Free Trade Zones; Migrant women workers; Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights; Qualitative; Sri Lanka
10.  "One country, two systems": Sociopolitical implications for female migrant sex workers in Hong Kong 
Background
Under the "two countries, one system" policy implemented by China to manage the return of Hong Kong's sovereignty, Hong Kong has maintained a comparatively prosperous economy within the Asian region. This has resulted in an environment which fosters migration from the mainland to Hong Kong, due largely to proximity, higher earning potential, common language, and a relaxing of border control measures. However not all mainland China citizens are equally able to access these new migration schemes and indeed a number of women such as sex workers are either migrating and/or working illegally and without occupational, legal and health protection within Hong Kong.
Discussion
Female migrant sex workers are exposed to a number of significant threats to their health, however their illegal status contributes to even greater vulnerability. The prevailing discourses which view these women as either "trafficked women" or as "illegal immigrants" do not adequately account for the complex situations which result in such women's employment in Hong Kong's sex industry. Rather, their position can best be understood within the broader frameworks provided by migration literature and the concept of "structural violence". This allows for a greater understanding of the socio-political issues which are systematically denying migrant sex workers adequate access to health care and other opportunities for social advancement. When these issues are taken into account, it becomes clear that the current relevant legislation regarding both immigration and sex work is perpetuating the marginalised and vulnerable status of migrant sex workers. Unless changes are made, structural barriers will remain in place which impede the ability of migrant sex workers to manage their own health needs and status.
Conclusion
Female migrant sex workers in Hong Kong are extremely vulnerable to a number of occupational health and safety hazards which have significantly detrimental effects on their health. These risks can best be understood within a broad framework of socio-political factors contributing to their vulnerability. Ensuring that migrant sex workers have adequate support for their health and legal rights requires require structural interventions such as decriminalisation and providing open and inclusive access to health service to counteract such factors.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-8-13
PMCID: PMC2629761  PMID: 19077260
11.  Structural Determinants of Inconsistent Condom Use with Clients Among Migrant Sex Workers: Findings of Longitudinal Research in an Urban Canadian Setting 
Sexually transmitted diseases  2015;42(6):312-316.
Background
Migrant women in sex work experience unique risks and protective factors related to their sexual health. Given the dearth of knowledge in high-income countries, we explored factors associated with inconsistent condom use by clients among migrant female sex workers over time in Vancouver, BC.
Methods
Questionnaire and HIV/STI testing data from a longitudinal cohort, AESHA, were collected from 2010–2013. Logistic regression using generalized estimating equations (GEE) was used to model correlates of inconsistent condom use by clients among international migrant sex workers over a 3-year study period.
Results
Of 685 participants, analyses were restricted to 182 (27%) international migrants who primarily originated from China. In multivariate GEE analyses, difficulty accessing condoms (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) 3.76, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.13–12.47) independently correlated with increased odds of inconsistent condom use by clients. Servicing clients in indoor sex work establishments (e.g., massage parlours) (AOR 0.34, 95% CI 0.15–0.77), and high school attainment (AOR 0.22, 95% CI 0.09–0.50) had independent protective effects on the odds of inconsistent condom use by clients.
Conclusions
Findings of this longitudinal study highlight the persistent challenges faced by migrant sex workers in terms of accessing and using condoms. Migrant sex workers who experienced difficulty in accessing condoms were more than three times as likely to report inconsistent condom use by clients. Laws, policies and programs promoting access to safer, decriminalized indoor work environments remain urgently needed to promote health, safety and human rights for migrant workers in the sex industry.
doi:10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000276
PMCID: PMC4435818  PMID: 25970307
migrant sex workers; migration; HIV/STI; condom use; sexual risk
12.  Violence prevention and municipal licensing of indoor sex work venues in the Greater Vancouver Area: narratives of migrant sex workers, managers and business owners 
Culture, health & sexuality  2015;17(7):825-841.
Using a socio-ecological, structural determinants framework, this study assesses the impact of municipal licensing policies and related policing practices across the Greater Vancouver Area (Canada) on the risk of violence within indoor sex work venues. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 46 migrant/immigrant sex workers, managers and owners of licensed indoor sex work establishments and micro-brothels. Findings indicate that policing practices and licensing requirements increase sex workers’ risk of violence and conflict with clients, and result in heightened stress, an inability to rely on police support, lost income and the displacement of sex workers to more hidden informal work venues. Prohibitive licensing and policing practices prevent sex workers, managers and owners from adopting safer workplace measures and exacerbate health and safety risks for sex workers. This study provides critical evidence of the negative public health implications of prohibitive municipal licensing in the context of a criminalised and enforcement-based approach to sex work. Workplace safety recommendations include the decriminalisation of sex work and the elimination of disproportionately high fees for licenses, criminal record restrictions, door lock restrictions, employee registration requirements and the use of police as licensing inspectors.
doi:10.1080/13691058.2015.1008046
PMCID: PMC4470838  PMID: 25686777
Sex work; Venues; Structural Factors; Violence; Licensing
13.  A new public health context to understand male sex work 
BMC Public Health  2015;15:282.
Background
Researching male sex work offers insight into the sexual lives of men and women while developing a more realistic appreciation for the changing issues associated with male sex work. This type of research is important because it not only reflects a growing and diversifying consumer demand for male sex work, but also because it enables the construction of knowledge that is up-to-date with changing ideas around sex and sexualities.
Discussion
This paper discusses a range of issues emerging in the male sex industry. Notably, globalisation and technology have contributed to the normalisation of male sex work and reshaped the landscape in which the male sex industry operates. As part of this discussion, we review STI and HIV rates among male sex workers at a global level, which are widely disparate and geographically contextual, with rates of HIV among male sex workers ranging from 0% in some areas to 50% in others. The Internet has reshaped the way that male sex workers and clients connect and has been identified as a useful space for safer sex messages and research that seeks out hidden or commonly excluded populations.
Future directions
We argue for a public health context that recognises the emerging and changing nature of male sex work, which means programs and policies that are appropriate for this population group. Online communities relating to male sex work are important avenues for safer sexual messages and unique opportunities to reach often excluded sub-populations of both clients and male sex workers. The changing structure and organisation of male sex work alongside rapidly changing cultural, academic and medical discourses provide new insight but also new challenges to how we conceive the sexualities of men and male sex workers. Public health initiatives must reflect upon and incorporate this knowledge.
doi:10.1186/s12889-015-1498-7
PMCID: PMC4419468  PMID: 25879716
Male sex worker; Male sex industry; Sexualities; e-technologies; HIV/AIDS
14.  An Ethnographic Study of the Social Context of Migrant Health in the United States 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e448.
Background
Migrant workers in the United States have extremely poor health. This paper aims to identify ways in which the social context of migrant farm workers affects their health and health care.
Methods and Findings
This qualitative study employs participant observation and interviews on farms and in clinics throughout 15 months of migration with a group of indigenous Triqui Mexicans in the western US and Mexico. Study participants include more than 130 farm workers and 30 clinicians. Data are analyzed utilizing grounded theory, accompanied by theories of structural violence, symbolic violence, and the clinical gaze. The study reveals that farm working and housing conditions are organized according to ethnicity and citizenship. This hierarchy determines health disparities, with undocumented indigenous Mexicans having the worst health. Yet, each group is understood to deserve its place in the hierarchy, migrant farm workers often being blamed for their own sicknesses.
Conclusions
Structural racism and anti-immigrant practices determine the poor working conditions, living conditions, and health of migrant workers. Subtle racism serves to reduce awareness of this social context for all involved, including clinicians. The paper concludes with strategies toward improving migrant health in four areas: health disparities research, clinical interactions with migrant laborers, medical education, and policy making.
A qualitative study of migrant Triqui Mexicans in the western US and Mexico shows that structural racism and anti-immigrant practices lead to poor working and living conditions, and poor health.
Editors' Summary
Background.
For centuries, recent immigrants have experienced poorer living and working conditions than more established inhabitants, which in turn means that the health of immigrants is often worse. Immigrants often take on the very lowest-paid jobs. One might suppose that in more recent years the increasing prosperity of countries such as the United States and those of western Europe would have reversed this trend. But as recently as 2005 the New York–based Human Rights Watch published a report entitled “Blood, Sweat and Fear,” which documented appalling conditions for the mostly immigrant workers in the US meat and poultry industry. In the UK also, legislation has recently been introduced to try to regulate the activity of “gang masters” who control large groups of immigrant workers. This legislation was triggered by public horror about the deaths in 2004 of 21 immigrant cockle pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay in Lancashire. A group of workers at particular risk of poor conditions because of the seasonal and uncertain patterns of work are those who work as farm laborers.
Why Was This Study Done?
There are relatively few studies that have looked in detail at the pattern of health problems among migrant farm workers in the US. Understanding the working conditions of these workers would be of help in understanding more about their health problems and, in particular, how to prevent them. One problem is that few of these workers are seen in the usual health-care settings; few of them have health insurance.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The paper's author spent 15 months with a group of indigenous Triqui Mexicans as they migrated around the western US and Mexico working on farms. He used a type of research called qualitative research, which involved observing and interviewing more than 130 farm workers and 30 health workers on farms and in clinics. He found that working and housing conditions were organized according to ethnicity and citizenship, and that there was an unofficial hierarchy, with undocumented indigenous Mexicans having the worst health. Even worse, migrant farm workers were often blamed for their sicknesses by those in charge of them or those from whom they sought help.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The author concludes that “structural racism and anti-immigrant practices determine the poor working conditions, living conditions, and health of migrant workers.” Furthermore, it seems that “subtle” racism among all involved, including clinicians, reduces awareness and perhaps even allows tacit acceptance of these patterns of health. It seems that targets for specific health interventions for these workers will need to be closely integrated with a broader approach to improving migrant health including medical education and policymaking.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030448.
Migration Dialogue regularly consolidates news related to immigration around the world
Global Exchange has information related to fair trade, CAFTA, and other related current events
United Farm Workers has information related to working conditions of migrant laborers
PCUN has information related to migrant laborers in the Pacific Northwest
The Border Action Network has information related to the US-Mexico border
Border Links provides education and experiential learning related to the US-Mexico Border
Tierra Nueva and the Peoples Seminary provide social services for migrant laborers in the Pacific Northwest and education related to the lives of migrant workers
The Pesticide Action Network of North America provides information related to pesticides and health
The Pesticide Education Center provides detailed lists of the contents of pesticides and their health effects
The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies conducts research and education projects related to international migration
Human Rights Watch publishes and campaigns on many issues, including conditions for workers, such as that on the US meat-packing industry
European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations has a range of information concerning migrants
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030448
PMCID: PMC1621098  PMID: 17076567
15.  Power and Politics in the Global Health Landscape: Beliefs, Competition and Negotiation Among Global Advocacy Coalitions in the Policy-Making Process 
Background: Advocacy coalitions play an increasingly prominent role within the global health landscape, linking actors and institutions to attract political attention and resources. This paper examines how coalitions negotiate among themselves and exercise hidden forms of power to produce policy on the basis of their beliefs and strategic interests.
Methods: This paper examines the beliefs and behaviours of health advocacy coalitions using Sabatier’s Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) as an informal theoretical lens. Coalitions are further explored in relation to the concept of transnational advocacy networks (Keck and Sikkink) and of productive power (Shiffman). The ACF focuses on explaining how policy change takes place when there is conflict concerning goals and technical approaches among different actors. This study uses participant observation methods, self-reported survey results and semi-structured qualitative interviews to trace how a major policy project of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) era, the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, was constructed through negotiations among maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) advocacy coalitions.
Results: The Global Strategy represented a new opportunity for high-level political attention. Despite differing policy beliefs, MNCH and SRHR actors collaborated to produce this strategy because of anticipated gains in political attention. While core beliefs did not shift fundamentally and collaboration was primarily a short-term tactical response to a time-bound opportunity, MNCH actors began to focus more on human rights perspectives and SRHR actors adopted greater use of quantifiable indicators and economic argumentation. This shift emphasises the inherent importance of SRHR to maternal and child health survival.
Conclusion: As opportunities arise, coalitions respond based on principles and policy beliefs, as well as to perceptions of advantage. Global health policy-making is an arena of contested interests, power and ideas, shaped by the interaction of coalitions. Although policy-making is often seen as a process that should be guided by evidence rather than interest-based politics, this study concludes that a participatory process of debate among different actor-coalitions is vital to progress and can lend greater legitimacy, accountability and transparency to the policy process.
doi:10.15171/ijhpm.2016.03
PMCID: PMC4852000  PMID: 27239880
Global Policy Networks; Agenda-Setting; Beliefs and Norms; Issue-Competition; Reproductive; Maternal; Newborn and Child Health
16.  The evolution of HIV policy in Vietnam: from punitive control measures to a more rights-based approach 
Global Health Action  2010;3:10.3402/gha.v3i0.4625.
Aim
Policymaking in Vietnam has traditionally been the preserve of the political elite, not open to the scrutiny of those outside the Communist Party. This paper aims to analyse Vietnam's HIV policy development in order to describe and understand the policy content, policy-making processes, actors and obstacles to policy implementation.
Methods
Nine policy documents on HIV were analysed and 17 key informant interviews were conducted in Hanoi and Quang Ninh Province, based on a predesigned interview guide. Framework analysis, a type of qualitative content analysis, was applied for data analysis.
Results
Our main finding was that during the last two decades, developments in HIV policy in Vietnam were driven in a top-down way by the state organs, with support and resources coming from international agencies. Four major themes were identified: HIV policy content, the policy-making processes, the actors involved and human resources for policy implementation. Vietnam's HIV policy has evolved from one focused on punitive control measures to a more rights-based approach, encompassing harm reduction and payment of health insurance for medical costs of patients with HIV-related illness. Low salaries and staff reluctance to work with patients, many of whom are drug users and female sex workers, were described as the main barriers to low health staff motivation.
Conclusion
Health policy analysis approaches can be applied in a traditional one party state and can demonstrate how similar policy changes take place, as those found in pluralistic societies, but through more top-down and somewhat hidden processes. Enhanced participation of other actors, like civil society in the policy process, is likely to contribute to policy formulation and implementation that meets the diverse needs and concerns of its population.
doi:10.3402/gha.v3i0.4625
PMCID: PMC2932461  PMID: 20824159
policy analysis; health policy; HIV; Vietnam; health staff
17.  Sexuality, rights and personhood: tensions in a transnational world 
Background
This article discusses what happens when normative ‘global’ discourses of rights and individuated sexual identity confront the messiness of ‘local’ realities. It considers the tensions that emerge when the relationship between sexual and social identities is not obvious and the implications of such tensions for public health and sexual rights activism. These questions are addressed through debates over the naming of male-to-male sexualities and desires in the context of globalization and the growth of a large NGO (non-governmental organization) sector in urban Bangladesh.
Methods
The material in the paper draws on a research project undertaken in 2008-9 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. A fundamental objective was to produce a contextualized understanding of sexuality in Dhaka city. Methods used included structured interviews, focus group discussions and informal conversations with a range of participants (students, factory workers, public health professionals and sexual minorities). The aim was to generate a conceptual and analytical framework around sexuality and rights rather than to undertake an empirical survey of any one population.
Results
As descriptors, globalized identity categories such as Men who have Sex with Men (MSM), used by public health providers, the state and donors; and gay/lesbian, invoked by human rights activists and transnational NGOs, are too narrow to capture the fluid and highly context-specific ways in which gender and sexually nonconforming persons understand themselves in Bangladesh. Further, class position mediates to a significant degree the reception, appropriation or rejection of transnational categories such as MSM and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT). The tension is reflected in the sometimes fraught relations between service providers to MSM, the people they serve and an emerging group who identify as LGBT.
Conclusion
A simple politics of recognition will be inadequate to the task of promoting health and human rights for all; such a strategy would effectively exclude individuals who do not necessarily connect their sexual practices with a specific sexual or social identity.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S3-S5
PMCID: PMC3287461  PMID: 22376124
18.  Access To Essential Maternal Health Interventions and Human Rights Violations among Vulnerable Communities in Eastern Burma 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(12):e242.
Background
Health indicators are poor and human rights violations are widespread in eastern Burma. Reproductive and maternal health indicators have not been measured in this setting but are necessary as part of an evaluation of a multi-ethnic pilot project exploring strategies to increase access to essential maternal health interventions. The goal of this study is to estimate coverage of maternal health services prior to this project and associations between exposure to human rights violations and access to such services.
Methods and Findings
Selected communities in the Shan, Mon, Karen, and Karenni regions of eastern Burma that were accessible to community-based organizations operating from Thailand were surveyed to estimate coverage of reproductive, maternal, and family planning services, and to assess exposure to household-level human rights violations within the pilot-project target population. Two-stage cluster sampling surveys among ever-married women of reproductive age (15–45 y) documented access to essential antenatal care interventions, skilled attendance at birth, postnatal care, and family planning services. Mid-upper arm circumference, hemoglobin by color scale, and Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia by rapid diagnostic dipstick were measured. Exposure to human rights violations in the prior 12 mo was recorded. Between September 2006 and January 2007, 2,914 surveys were conducted. Eighty-eight percent of women reported a home delivery for their last pregnancy (within previous 5 y). Skilled attendance at birth (5.1%), any (39.3%) or ≥ 4 (16.7%) antenatal visits, use of an insecticide-treated bed net (21.6%), and receipt of iron supplements (11.8%) were low. At the time of the survey, more than 60% of women had hemoglobin level estimates ≤ 11.0 g/dl and 7.2% were Pf positive. Unmet need for contraceptives exceeded 60%. Violations of rights were widely reported: 32.1% of Karenni households reported forced labor and 10% of Karen households had been forced to move. Among Karen households, odds of anemia were 1.51 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.95–2.40) times higher among women reporting forced displacement, and 7.47 (95% CI 2.21–25.3) higher among those exposed to food security violations. The odds of receiving no antenatal care services were 5.94 (95% CI 2.23–15.8) times higher among those forcibly displaced.
Conclusions
Coverage of basic maternal health interventions is woefully inadequate in these selected populations and substantially lower than even the national estimates for Burma, among the lowest in the region. Considerable political, financial, and human resources are necessary to improve access to maternal health care in these communities.
Luke Mullany and colleagues examine access to essential maternal health interventions and human rights violations within vulnerable communities in eastern Burma.
Editors' Summary
Background.
After decades of military rule, Burma has one of the world's worst health-care systems and high levels of ill health. For example, maternal mortality (deaths among women from pregnancy-related causes) is around 360 per 100,000 live births in Burma, whereas in neighboring Thailand it is only 44 per 100,000 live births. Maternal health is even worse in the Shan, Karenni, Karen and Mon states in eastern Burma where ethnic conflicts and enforced village relocations have internally displaced more than half a million people. Here, maternal mortality is thought to be about 1000 per 100, 000 live births. In an effort to improve access to life-saving maternal health interventions in these states, Burmese community-based health organizations, the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights and the Global Health Access Program in the USA, and the Mae Tao Clinic (a health-worker training center in Thailand) recently set up the Mobile Obstetric Maternal Health Workers (MOM) Project. In this pilot project, local health workers from 12 communities in eastern Burma received training in antenatal care, emergency obstetrics (the care of women during childbirth), blood transfusion, and family planning at the Mae Tao Clinic. Back in Burma, these maternal health workers trained additional local health workers and traditional birth attendants. All these individuals now provide maternal health care to their communities.
Why Was This Study Done?
The effectiveness of the MOM project can only be evaluated if accurate baseline information on women's access to maternal health-care services is available. This information is also needed to ensure the wise use of scarce health-care resources. However, very little is known about reproductive and maternal health in eastern Burma. In this study, the researchers analyze the information on women's access to reproductive and maternal health-care services that was collected during the initial field implementation stage of the MOM project. In addition, they analyze whether exposure to enforced village relocations and other human rights violations affect access to maternal health-care services.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Trained survey workers asked nearly 3000 ever-married women of reproductive age in the selected communities about their access to antenatal and postnatal care, skilled birth attendants, and family planning. They measured each woman's mid-upper arm circumference (an indicator of nutritional status) and tested them for anemia (iron deficiency) and infection with malaria parasites (a common cause of anemia in tropical countries). Finally, they asked the women about any recent violations of their human rights such as forced labour or relocation. Nearly 90% of the women reported a home delivery for their last baby. A skilled attendant was present at only one in 20 births and only one in three women had any antenatal care. One third of the women received postnatal care and only a third said they had access to effective contraceptives. Few women had received iron supplements or had used insecticide-treated bednets to avoid malaria-carrying mosquitos. Consequently, more than half the women were anemic and 7.2% were infected with malaria parasites. Many women also showed signs of poor nutrition. Finally, human rights violations were widely reported by the women. In Karen, the region containing most of the study communities, forced relocation tripled the risk of women developing anemia and greatly decreased their chances of receiving any antenatal care.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that access to maternal health-care interventions is extremely limited and that poor nutrition, anemia, and malaria, all of which increase the risk of pregnancy complications, are widespread in the communities in the MOM project. Because these communities had some basic health services and access to training in Thailand before the project started, these results probably underestimate the lack of access to maternal health-care services in eastern Burma. Nevertheless, it is clear that considerable political, financial, and human resources will be needed to improve maternal health in this region. Finally, the findings also reveal a link between human rights violations and reduced access to maternal health-care services. Thus, the scale of human rights violations will need to be considered when evaluating programs designed to improve maternal health in Burma and in other places where there is ongoing conflict.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050242.
This research article is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Macaya Douoguih
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of health in Burma (in several languages)
The Mae Tao Clinic also provides general information about Burma and its health services
More information about the MOM project is available in a previous publication by the researchers
The Burma Campaign UK and Human Rights Watch both provide detailed information about human rights violations in Burma
The United Nations Population Fund provides information about safe motherhood and ongoing efforts to save mothers' lives around the world
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050242
PMCID: PMC2605890  PMID: 19108601
19.  Reducing stigma in healthcare and law enforcement: a novel approach to service provision for street level sex workers 
Introduction
Providing services for street level sex workers requires a multidisciplinary approach, addressing both health and safety concerns typical of their age and gender and those that arise specific to their line of work. Despite being a diverse population, studies have identified some specific health needs for sex workers including addictions treatment, mental health. Additionally, studies have shown a higher risk of physical and sexual assault for this population. The Persons at Risk program (PAR) in London, Ontario, Canada was started in 2005 to address the specific needs of street level sex workers by using a harm-reduction model for policing and healthcare provision. This qualitative study evaluated this model of care in terms of improving access to healthcare and essential police services for street level sex workers.
Methods
A total of 14 semi-structured interviews were conducted with current and former female street level sex workers enrolled in the PAR program. In addition, 3 semi-structured interviews were conducted with health and law enforcement professionals. The research team then analyzed and coded the transcripts using qualitative description to identify key themes in the data.
Results
Results indicated that participants represent a vulnerable population with increased safety concerns and healthcare needs relating to addictions, mental health and infectious disease. Despite this, participants reported avoiding healthcare workers and police officers in the past because of fear of stigma or repercussions. All participants identified the harm reduction approach of the PAR program as being essential to their continued engagement with the program. Other important aspects included flexible hours, the location of the clinic, streamlined access to mental health and addictions treatment and the female gender of the police and healthcare worker.
Conclusions
The PAR program provides sex workers access to much needed primary healthcare that is flexible and without judgment. In addition, they are provided with a direct avenue to access law enforcement. We feel a similar model of care could be applicable to many cities across Canada.
doi:10.1186/s12939-015-0156-0
PMCID: PMC4404612  PMID: 25879639
Sex worker health; Women’s health; Harm reduction; Addiction
20.  Framing rights and responsibilities: accounts of women with a history of AIDS activism 
Background
In South Africa, policy with respect to HIV/AIDS has had a strong rights-based framing in line with international trends and in keeping with the constitutional overhaul in the post-Apartheid era. There have also been considerable advances since 1994 towards legal enshrinement of sexual and reproductive health rights and in the provision of related services. Since HIV in this setting has heavily affected women of reproductive age, there has been discussion about the particular needs of this subgroup, especially in the context of service integration. This paper is concerned with the way in which HIV positive women conceptualise these rights and whether they wish and are able to actualise them in their daily lives.
Methods
In 2003 a group of women involved with the Treatment Action Campaign and Medicines Sans Frontières participated in an initiative to ‘map’ their bodies as affected by the virus. A book containing the maps and narratives was published and used as a political tool to pressure the government of the day to roll out antiretroviral therapy (ART) to the population. In 2008, the authors coordinated an initiative that involved conducting follow-up in-depth interviews in which five of these women reflected on those body maps and on how their lives had changed in the intervening five years since gaining the right to treatment through the public sector.
Results
Drawing upon this qualitative data and published sources, these new accounts are analysed in order to reflect the perspectives of these women living with chronic HIV with respect to their sexual relations and fertility desires. The paper reveals difficulties faced by these women in negotiating sexual relationships and disclosure of their HIV positive status. It focuses on how they perceive relative responsibilities in terms of taking preventative measures in sexual encounters. Women adopt tactics within a context characterised by various inequalities in order to ‘make do’, such as by remaining silent about their status. Concerns about childbearing can be addressed by information and support from a health care worker.
Conclusions
Women’s experience of HIV as a chronic illness and the need to adhere to ART, is linked to the way in which the language of responsibility can come to counter-balance a language of rights in treatment programmes.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S3-S7
PMCID: PMC3287463  PMID: 22376178
21.  Condoms and sexual health education as evidence: impact of criminalization of in-call venues and managers on migrant sex workers access to HIV/STI prevention in a Canadian setting 
Background
Despite a large body of evidence globally demonstrating that the criminalization of sex workers increases HIV/STI risks, we know far less about the impact of criminalization and policing of managers and in-call establishments on HIV/STI prevention among sex workers, and even less so among migrant sex workers.
Methods
Analysis draws on ethnographic fieldwork and 46 qualitative interviews with migrant sex workers, managers and business owners of in-call sex work venues in Metro Vancouver, Canada.
Results
The criminalization of in-call venues and third parties explicitly limits sex workers’ access to HIV/STI prevention, including manager restrictions on condoms and limited onsite access to sexual health information and HIV/STI testing. With limited labour protections and socio-cultural barriers, criminalization and policing undermine the health and human rights of migrant sex workers working in –call venues.
Conclusions
This research supports growing evidence-based calls for decriminalization of sex work, including the removal of criminal sanctions targeting third parties and in-call venues, alongside programs and policies that better protect the working conditions of migrant sex workers as critical to HIV/STI prevention and human rights.
doi:10.1186/s12914-016-0104-0
PMCID: PMC5114757  PMID: 27855677
Migrant sex workers; Criminalization; Third party actors; HIV/AIDS; Sexual health
22.  Sex worker-led structural interventions in India: a case study on addressing violence in HIV prevention through the Ashodaya Samithi collective in Mysore 
Background & objectives:
Structural interventions have the capacity to improve the outcomes of HIV/AIDS interventions by changing the social, economic, political or environmental factors that determine risk and vulnerability. Marginalized groups face disproportionate barriers to health, and sex workers are among those at highest risk of HIV in India. Evidence in India and globally has shown that sex workers face violence in many forms ranging from verbal, psychological and emotional abuse to economic extortion, physical and sexual violence and this is directly linked to lower levels of condom use and higher levels of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), the most critical determinants of HIV risk. We present here a case study of an intervention that mobilized sex workers to lead an HIV prevention response that addresses violence in their daily lives.
Methods:
This study draws on ethnographic research and project monitoring data from a community-led structural intervention in Mysore, India, implemented by Ashodaya Samithi. Qualitative and quantitative data were used to characterize baseline conditions, community responses and subsequent outcomes related to violence.
Results:
In 2004, the incidence of reported violence by sex workers was extremely high (> 8 incidents per sex worker, per year) but decreased by 84 per cent over 5 years. Violence by police and anti-social elements, initially most common, decreased substantially after a safe space was established for sex workers to meet and crisis management and advocacy were initiated with different stakeholders. Violence by clients, decreased after working with lodge owners to improve safety. However, initial increases in intimate partner violence were reported, and may be explained by two factors: (i) increased willingness to report such incidents; and (ii) increased violence as a reaction to sex workers’ growing empowerment. Trafficking was addressed through the establishment of a self-regulatory board (SRB). The community's progressive response to violence was enabled by advancing community mobilization, ensuring community ownership of the intervention, and shifting structural vulnerabilities, whereby sex workers increasingly engaged key actors in support of a more enabling environment.
Interpretation & conclusions:
Ashodaya's community-led response to violence at multiple levels proved highly synergistic and effective in reducing structural violence.
doi:10.4103/0971-5916.93431
PMCID: PMC3307193  PMID: 22382190
Community-led; empowerment; HIV/AIDS; India; sex work; structural violence
23.  Staying healthy “under the sheets”: Inuit youth experiences of access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in Arviat, Nunavut, Canada 
International Journal of Circumpolar Health  2016;75:10.3402/ijch.v75.31812.
Background
Inuit youth are reported to experience considerably worse sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) outcomes than Canadian youth in general, as evidenced through public health data on sexually transmitted infections, unintended young pregnancies and rates of sexual violence in Nunavut compared to national averages. Existing literature on Inuit SRHR has identified the impact of westernization and colonialism on health outcomes, though gaps remain in addressing youth- and community-specific experiences of SRHR.
Objective
This study aims to generate youth-focused evidence on experiences of SRHR relating to access to care in Arviat in order to better inform locally authored interventions geared towards improving youth SRHR.
Design
The Piliriqatigiinniq Partnership Community Health Research Model (PRM) developed by the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre was followed to generate data on youth experiences of SRHR support access in Arviat. In-depth interviews were conducted with 9 male youth (ages 17–22 years), 10 female youth (ages 16–22 years) and 6 community leaders (aged 25+). Snowball sampling was used to engage informants, and data analysis followed an approach similar to conventional content analysis, where emphasis was placed on “immersion and crystallization” of data, corresponding to the Inuit concept of Iqqaumaqatigiinniq in the PRM. Findings were continuously checked with community members in Arviat during the analysis phase, and their feedback was incorporated into the report.
Results
Youth in Arviat were found to face significant barriers to SRHR care and support. Three major themes emerged as important factors conditioning youth access to SRHR resources in the community: trust of support workers in the community; stigma/taboos surrounding SRHR topics; and feelings of powerlessness impeding female and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer youth in particular from accessing care.
Conclusions
The locally specific ways these themes emerged revealed important structural factors at play in the community, which seem to persistently work against youths’ abilities to achieve good SRHR outcomes. To address poor micro-level health outcomes in Arviat, it thus appears that locally authored programming must take into account broader structural factors at the root of SRHR access barriers.
doi:10.3402/ijch.v75.31812
PMCID: PMC5149654  PMID: 27938639
sexual health; reproductive health; health and rights; access to care; Inuit youth; prevention; community-driven; youth health; structural factors; structural barriers
24.  HIV Programs for Sex Workers: Lessons and Challenges for Developing and Delivering Programs 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(6):e1001808.
There is evidence that HIV prevention programs for sex workers, especially female sex workers, are cost-effective in several contexts, including many western countries, Thailand, India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. The evidence that sex worker HIV prevention programs work must not inspire complacency but rather a renewed effort to expand, intensify, and maximize their impact. The PLOS Collection “Focus on Delivery and Scale: Achieving HIV Impact with Sex Workers” highlights major challenges to scaling-up sex worker HIV prevention programs, noting the following: sex worker HIV prevention programs are insufficiently guided by understanding of epidemic transmission dynamics, situation analyses, and programmatic mapping; sex worker HIV and sexually transmitted infection services receive limited domestic financing in many countries; many sex worker HIV prevention programs are inadequately codified to ensure consistency and quality; and many sex worker HIV prevention programs have not evolved adequately to address informal sex workers, male and transgender sex workers, and mobile- and internet-based sex workers. Based on the wider collection of papers, this article presents three major clusters of recommendations: (i) HIV programs focused on sex workers should be prioritized, developed, and implemented based on robust evidence; (ii) national political will and increased funding are needed to increase coverage of effective sex worker HIV prevention programs in low and middle income countries; and (iii) comprehensive, integrated, and rapidly evolving HIV programs are needed to ensure equitable access to health services for individuals involved in all forms of sex work.
Reflecting on the "Focus on Delivery and Scale: Achieving HIV Impact with Sex Workers" collection, David Wilson outlines action-oriented recommendations to increase the reach, intensity, and impact of HIV prevention interventions targeted towards sex work.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001808
PMCID: PMC4469316  PMID: 26079267
25.  Experiences with Policing among People Who Inject Drugs in Bangkok, Thailand: A Qualitative Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(12):e1001570.
Using thematic analysis, Kerr and colleagues document the experiences of policing among people who inject drugs in Bangkok and examine how interactions with police can affect drug-using behaviors and health care access.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Despite Thailand's commitment to treating people who use drugs as “patients” not “criminals,” Thai authorities continue to emphasize criminal law enforcement for drug control. In 2003, Thailand's drug war received international criticism due to extensive human rights violations. However, few studies have since investigated the impact of policing on drug-using populations. Therefore, we sought to examine experiences with policing among people who inject drugs (PWID) in Bangkok, Thailand, between 2008 and 2012.
Methods and Findings
Between July 2011 and June 2012, semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with 42 community-recruited PWID participating in the Mitsampan Community Research Project in Bangkok. Interviews explored PWID's encounters with police during the past three years. Audio-recorded interviews were transcribed verbatim, and a thematic analysis was conducted to document the character of PWID's experiences with police. Respondents indicated that policing activities had noticeably intensified since rapid urine toxicology screening became available to police. Respondents reported various forms of police misconduct, including false accusations, coercion of confessions, excessive use of force, and extortion of money. However, respondents were reluctant to report misconduct to the authorities in the face of social and structural barriers to seeking justice. Respondents' strategies to avoid police impeded access to health care and facilitated transitions towards the misuse of prescribed pharmaceuticals. The study's limitations relate to the transferability of the findings, including the potential biases associated with the small convenience sample.
Conclusions
This study suggests that policing in Bangkok has involved injustices, human rights abuses, and corruption, and policing practices in this setting appeared to have increased PWID's vulnerability to poor health through various pathways. Novel to this study are findings pertaining to the use of urine drug testing by police, which highlight the potential for widespread abuse of this emerging technology. These findings raise concern about ongoing policing practices in this setting.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In many countries, the dominant strategy used to control illegal drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine is criminal law enforcement, a strategy that sometimes results in human rights abuses such as ill-treatment by police, extrajudicial killings, and arbitrary detention. Moreover, growing evidence suggests that aggressive policing of illicit drug use can have adverse public-health consequences. For example, the fear engendered by intensive policing may cause people who inject drugs (PWID) to avoid services such as needle exchanges, thereby contributing to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. One country with major epidemics of illicit drug use and of HIV/AIDS among PWID is Thailand. Although Thailand reclassified drug users as “patients” instead of “criminals” in 2002, possession and consumption of illicit drugs remain criminal offenses. The 2002 legislation also created a system of compulsory drug detention centers, most of which lack evidence-based addiction treatment services. In 2003, the Thai government launched a campaign to suppress drug trafficking and to enrol 300,000 people who use drugs into treatment. This campaign received international criticism because it involved extensive human rights violations, including more than 2,800 extrajudicial killings of suspected drug users and dealers.
Why Was This Study Done?
Drug-related arrests and compulsory detention of drug users are increasing in Thailand but what is the impact of current policing practices on drug users and on public health? In this qualitative study (a study that aims for an in-depth understanding of human behavior), the researchers use thematic analysis informed by the Rhodes' Risk Environment Framework to document the social and structural factors that led to encounters with the police among PWID in Bangkok between 2008 and 2012, the policing tactics employed during these encounters, and the associated health consequences of these encounters. The Risk Environment Framework posits that a range of social, political, economic, and physical environmental factors interact with each other and shape the production of drug-related harm.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between July 2011 and June 2012, the researchers conducted in-depth interviews with a convenience sample (a non-random sample from a nearby population) of 42 participants in the Mitsampan Community Research Project, an investigation of drug-using behavior, health care access, and drug-related harms among PWID in Bangkok. Respondents reported that policing activities had intensified since rapid urine toxicology screening became widely available and since the initiation of a crackdown on drug users in 2011. They described various forms of violence and misconduct that they had experienced during confrontations with police, including false accusations, degrading stop and search procedures, and excessive use of force. Urine drug testing was identified as a key tool used by the police, with some respondents describing how police caused unnecessary humiliation by requesting urine samples in public places. It was also reported that the police used positive test results as a means of extortion. Finally, some respondents reported feeling powerless in relation to the police and cited fear of retaliation as an important barrier to obtaining redress for police corruption. Others reported that they had adopted strategies to avoid the police such as staying indoors, a strategy likely to impede access to health care, or changing their drug-using behavior by, for example, injecting midazolam rather than methamphetamine, a practice associated with an increased risk of injection-related complications.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the policing of PWID in Bangkok between 2008 and 2012 involved injustices, human rights abuses, and corruption and highlight the potential for widespread misuse of urine drug testing. Moreover, they suggest that policing practices in this setting may have increased the vulnerability of PWID to poor health by impeding their access to health care and by increasing the occurrence of risky drug-using behaviors. Because this study involved a small convenience sample of PWID, these findings may not be generalizable to other areas of Bangkok or Thailand and do not indicate whether police misconduct and corruption is highly prevalent across the all police departments in Bangkok. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that multilevel structural changes and interventions are needed to mitigate the harm associated with policing of illicit drug use in Bangkok. These changes will need to ensure full accountability for police misconduct and access to legal services for victims of this misconduct. They will also need to include ethical guidelines for urine drug testing and the reform of policies that promote repressive policing and compulsory detention.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001570.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Burris and Koester
Human Rights Watch, a global organization dedicated to defending and protecting human rights, has information about drug policy and human rights, which includes information on Thailand
The Global Commission on Drug Policy published a report in June 2012 entitled “The War on Drugs and HIV/AIDS: How the Criminalization of Drug Use Fuels the Global Pandemic” (available in several languages)
The Global Commission on HIV and the Law published a report in July 2012 entitled “HIV and the Law: Risk, Rights and Health” (available in several languages), the Open Society Foundations have prepared a briefing on this report
More information about the Mitsampan Community Research Project is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001570
PMCID: PMC3858231  PMID: 24339753

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