Send to

Choose Destination
J Urban Health. 2017 Jun;94(3):408-416. doi: 10.1007/s11524-016-0128-8.

Identifying Health Experiences of Domestically Sex-Trafficked Women in the USA: A Qualitative Study in Rikers Island Jail.

Author information

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
NYC Health and Hospitals, Correctional Health Services, New York, NY, USA.


While sex trafficking in the USA is a significant medical and public health issue, there is sparse data on the healthcare needs of and access for this population. This study was designed to identify experiences of domestically sex-trafficked women regarding healthcare access, reproductive health, and infectious diseases while trafficked. Trafficking survivors incarcerated in New York City's Rikers Island women's jail participated in audio-recorded interviews between July and September 2015. Recordings were transcribed, and a content analysis was completed to identify health-related themes. Twenty-one women ranging from 19 to 60 years old were included in this study. Reasons for accessing care included sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV testing, unintended pregnancies, traumas, and chronic diseases. Emergency departments, Planned Parenthoods, and jails were common care sites. Traffickers and substance use impeded care and access to follow-up. Unintended pregnancy and STIs resulted in trafficker-perpetrated violence. Condoms, the most common form of contraception and HIV prevention, were inconsistently negotiated due to financial and violent consequences. These findings demonstrate that domestic sex trafficking survivors experienced chronic and acute health issues while trafficked and multiple barriers to care. Substance use and financial vulnerabilities furthered unintended pregnancy and infection risk. These findings can inform future research regarding healthcare access and practices for domestically trafficked women.


Access to care; Condoms; HIV; Reproductive health; Sex trafficking; Women

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center