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International News

Canada: Drop-In Program Aims to Help Sex-Trade Workers

October 5, 2009

Opened a year ago, the HIV North Sex-Trade Women's Drop-In has provided a supportive space for about 70 female sex workers in the community. While the sex trade may not be very visible in Grande Prairie, it does exist and the women need support, said Brenda Yamkowy, executive director of the HIV North Society.

"The majority of who we are seeing are [working] at the street level," said Yamkowy. "This isn't women from any of the escort services or anything. We're not seeing those."

Female sex workers can enjoy a shower and relax at the twice-weekly drop-in, Yamkowy said. The women can receive condoms, clean needles and other harm-reduction supplies, meals, various toiletries, and clothing items such as clean underwear and bras.

"It also gives the opportunity for other agencies that assist in volunteering to connect with the women," Yamkowy said. "Should they need any assistance at any time at one of the agencies, they know a friendly face. They know somebody they can go to."

Attendance at the center fluctuates, said Yamkowy. "So we have a few of them who attend for a while," she said. "Then we get a new batch of women come in. We see that all the time ... regularly about 30 people."

In October last year, a regular position for a services coordinator was created for the center. "It provides someone there on a regular basis," Yamkowy said. "They get to know the women a little better because they are there all the time." HIV North has recently asked City Hall administrators for funding to support the coordinator position.

Back to other news for October 2009

Adapted from:
Daily Herald-Tribune (Grande Prairie)
09.24.2009; Crystal Rhyno

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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