Economic Strengthening for Female Sex Workers: A Review of the Literature

  • Date Posted: June 20, 2014
  • Authors: Whitney Moret
  • Organizations/Projects: FHI 360
  • Document Types: Evidence or Research, Evaluation, Technical Report
  • Donor Type: U.S. Agency for International Development

Female sex workers (FSWs) have been identified as a key population in the global fight against AIDS. In concentrated, mixed, and even generalized epidemics, the contribution of sex work toward the onward transmission of HIV is substantial.  HIV risk is directly related to the economic vulnerability of FSWs, the vast majority of whom report entering sex work for financial reasons due to lack of alternative employment opportunities. This report reviews the literature on economic strengthening (ES) interventions for risk reduction and HIV prevention among FSWs to identify best practices as well as opportunities for further research. It begins with an overview of intervention approaches, including evidence supporting structural interventions. It then discusses existing research on the needs and financial practices of sex workers, followed by an overview and analysis of interventions designed to meet these needs. The report concludes with recommendations for future research to lay the groundwork for a future ES pilot with FSWs.

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