"Two Pairs of Gloves": Sex Workers' Experiences of Stigma and Discrimination in Healthcare Settings in Europe

Sex workers face higher rates of physical and mental health conditions, compared to non-sex working populations. Evidence shows that physical and mental health conditions among sex workers are influenced by the high rates of physical, sexual, psychological, and economic violence, as well as stigma and discrimination faced by sex workers in social services, education, housing, healthcare, and employment, and finance, among others areas. Studies also suggest that sex workers experience greater unmet health needs compared to the general population, which in turn, influence their overall health.

For sex workers, access to healthcare is influenced by a variety of factors which may either support workers to access services (facilitators) or get in their way (barriers). One of the major barriers shown to influence sex workers’ access health care is stigma. For example, sex workers that disclose their occupation to health care providers may experience discrimination, including denial of care, disrespectful and abusive language and treatment, confidentiality breaches and a lower quality of care. This may in turn impact whether workers feel comfortable following treatments and seeking healthcare in future.

"Two pairs of gloves" is research that aims to facilitate deeper understanding of sex workers’ experiences of stigma and discrimination in healthcare settings in Europe. The research also aimed to inform future interventions to combat stigma and discrimination against sex workers in healthcare settings, thus improve sex workers’ access to appropriate and quality healthcare.

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