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Health services fail women working in prostitution

13 Mehefin 2007

Current health services are failing to provide adequate care for women working in prostitution, according to new research by Cardiff University.

A study led by Dr Nikki Jeal of the School of Medicine found striking differences in the health needs of parlour-based prostitutes when compared with street-based prostitutes, having implications for the content and delivery of health services.

Dr Jeal said: "This group of women have high health risks but this new research demonstrates that women selling sex are not all the same, and have different health needs according to their working environment".

"Those in massage parlours require more specialist sexual health care while women working on the street require a broad range of services that also address much wider health and living needs. Development of effective services requires good evidence rather than good intentions. Otherwise money will be wasted and the needs of vulnerable women will continue to be unmet."

71 female parlour based sex workers in Bristol were interviewed for the study and compared to a similar survey of street sex workers taken three years ago. The findings suggest that if health and social services are to have a positive impact their services need to be tailored accordingly.