Fri | Apr 19, 2019

Survey finds widespread substance abuse among sex workers

Published:Friday | July 27, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer

Over 80 per cent of sex workers have reported that they abuse alcohol, and others have admitted to using other forms of dangerous substances.

This is according to the findings of the fourth generational bio-behavioural survey of female sex workers, female patrons, and workers at places where persons meet sex partners or participate in sexual activity in exchange for money. The survey was conducted in 11 parishes - excluding St Mary, Portland, and St Thomas- between August and November last year.

The findings indicate that alcohol was the most reported substance used by respondents, with an average of 83.32 per cent of participants having used it. Crack cocaine, marijuana, and estacy were also popular drugs used.

"Street sex workers recorded the highest use of crack cocaine among the categories of participants (eight per cent) followed by other sex workers, 5.3 per cent, and dancers, 3.1 per cent," says the report.

It also found that workers and patrons were the least likely to use crack cocaine. Half or more of sex workers and exotic dancers used marijuana, while 37 per cent of workers and 39 per cent of patrons also used that substance, according to the report.




In addition, the use of ecstasy was highest among exotic dancers, at 25.6 per cent, followed by 20 per cent of street sex workers, and 13 per cent of other sex workers.

The researchers strongly suggested, therefore, that close monitoring and interventions should be done to eliminate substance abuse among vulnerable groups.

"The use of alcohol and drugs must be addressed consistently, particularly the use of ecstasy among exotic dancers and crack cocaine among street sex workers. The slight trend towards the use of IV (intravenous) drugs needs to be monitored closely and appropriate interventions proactively provided," the researchers recommended.

Principal investigators Dr Nicola Skyers and Marion Scott were mandated to, among other things, determine the prevalence and incidence of HIV and syphilis among high-risk women, to estimate the female sex workers population size, and to determine the effectiveness of prevention interventions among female sex workers.