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Aligning Public Health and Public Safety to Improve Health for Sex Workers

Principal Investigator: Susan Sherman

Co-Investigators: Michele Decker, Katherine Footer

Description: Despite many shared goals, public health and public safety systems often don’t collaborate and end up working at cross-purposes. Their divergent responses to sex work are particularly striking, with public health focusing on health promotion in contrast to public safety’s focus on criminalization of both sex work and the substance use that so often accompanies it. SAPPHIRE (Sex Workers and Police Promoting Health in Risky Environments) works with law enforcement and sex workers in an aim to identify opportunities to better align health, safety, and rights as they relate to female sex workers. Simultaneously, we are developing the first sex worker cohort in the US to characterize safety, law enforcement interactions, and structural determinants of health over time in this population. This work builds on our extensive past research with women in exotic dance venues, and microfinance interventions for this population.