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Reprod Health Matters. 2007 May;15(29):108-18.

Sexual and reproductive health needs of sex workers: two feminist projects in Brazil.

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Associate Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte MG, Brazil. <>


The sexual and reproductive health needs of sex workers have been neglected both in research and public health interventions, which have almost exclusively focused on STI/HIV prevention. Among the reasons for this are the condemnation, stigma and ambiguous legal status of sex work. This paper describes work carried out by two feminist NGOs in Brazil, Mulher e Saúde (MUSA) in Belo Horizonte and Coletivo Feminista Sexualidade e Saúde in São Paulo, to promote sexual and reproductive health for sex workers. MUSA's project "In the Battle for Health", was begun in 1992; sex workers were trained as peer educators and workshops were offered on self-care for sex workers and their clients. In São Paulo, the Coletivo project "Get Friendly with Her", begun in 2002, offers clinic consultations and self-care workshops on sexuality, contraception, STI/HIV prevention and self-examination. Health care needs during menstruation and unhealthy vaginal practices led to promotion of the diaphragm as a contraceptive, for prevention of reproductive tract infection and to catch menstrual blood. Meeting the sexual and reproductive health needs of sex workers depends on the promotion of their human rights, access to health care without discrimination, and attention to psychosocial health issues, alcohol and drug abuse, and violence from clients, partners, pimps and police.

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