SJI Research, Publications & Presentations

Informing the general community about the diverse needs and issues of all types of Sex Workers in the Bay Area is a critical service that we provide at the St. James Infirmary. Our research practices are grounded in a participatory, peer-based process.

The data that we gather is not used to compromise the safety of our community nor are we required to gather this information for any government or private agencies. These assessments are about us learning what our diverse community has to say. Through our intake assessments we have learned several valuable things about our community.

For example, we have learned that:

• Before coming to St. James, 70% have never disclosed their sex work status to their medical provider for fear of discrimination or diminished healthcare

• Sex Workers who work collectively have lower rates of HIV and STIs than those working independently

• Sex Workers who have a history of arrest of more likely to test positive for HIV and STIs and experience work related violence

This tells us some really important things about what Sex Workers need. First, it is clear that Sex Workers are facing stigma and discrimination in the community in general, and at their doctor’s office specifically. How does this impact the healthcare of Sex Workers? In many ways. First, the level of trust and disclosure that is necessary for comprehensive care is missing in a setting where a Sex Worker is unable to be honest with his or her provider for fear of discrimination. Secondly, because of lack of communication, medical providers are misinformed about the needs of Sex Workers. Third, arresting Sex Workers is bad for our health and makes us vulnerable to infections and violence.

Sex Workers need:
1) a less stigmatized world to function in; and
2) medical providers who won’t compromise their services because their patient is a Sex Worker; and
3) a clinic they can call their own.

This information is also critical to show that Sex Workers need collective organizing capacity for increased positive health outcomes. As documented by other workers in traditional labor fields, collective organizing improves health outcomes, improves negotiating power and improves employee relationships. As a criminalized community, Sex Workers can be more at risk for violence in the workplace and are legally excluded from organizing under Federal Law.  For many reasons including health related ones, legal and social barriers to Sex Worker organizing and working collectively need to be dismantled.

Below, we have provided some of our peer-reviewed research, as well as presentations at various conferences and research papers written by our staff.

SJI Occupational Health & Safety Handbook 3rd Edition (2010)
This handbook is a must have for sex workers and our allies in the community! The first half of the book is devoted to harm reduction, health, safety and legal rights, and the second half has information for 720 local, national and international resources relevant to the lives of sex workers.You can still buy this book NOW…in hard copy.

SJI’s STRIDE Zine – New Edition! (2014)                                                                                                      Created by staff and participants of the STRIDE Program, SJI’s STRIDE Zine provides  basic information about our hormone clinic, safer injection tips, legal resources, new surgery guidelines for California and recommended reading for the savvy trans sex worker!

Beyond Prescientific Reasoning:  Community-Based Participatory Research with Sex Workers
SWEAT Study data prepared by Alexandra Lutnick 1 and Deborah Cohan 2. Poster Presented by Alexandra Lutnick at the International AIDS Conference in Washington DC, July 2012 (PDF Download)
1 RTI International & 2 The University of California San Francisco

Criminalization, legalization or decriminalization  of sex work: what female sex workers say  in San Francisco, USA
Published in Reproductive Health Matters, 2009. (PDF Download)

Sex Worker Health, San Francisco Style
Published in Sexually Transmitted Infections Online, July 19, 2006. (PDF Download)

Can the Decriminalization of Sex Work Assist HIV Prevention?
SWEAT Study data prepared by Alix Lutnick and Deb Cohan, poster presented at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, August 6, 2008. (PDF Download)

Working Conditions, HIV, STIs and Hep. C Among Female Sex Workers in San Francisco
SWEAT Study data prepared by Alix Lutnick and Deb Cohan, poster presented at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, August 6, 2008. (PDF Download)

SWEAT To find out more about the Sex Worker Environmental Assessment Team research project conducted by the University of California San Francisco and St. James Infirmary, please visit their blog.

Social Content and the Health of Sex Workers in San Francisco
Chart presentation in Power Point. Collaborative study project between the University of California at San Francisco, the St. James Infirmary, and the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Funding provided by the Ford Foundation and the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

The Health Needs of Sex Workers, A Descriptive Study
Power Point presentation produced by Chuck Cloniger, FNP & Deborah Cohan, M.D., in collaboration with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and UCSF Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. (Powerpoint slideshow)

Sex Worker Health, San Francisco Style; The St. James Infirmary
Research results from the collaborative efforts of SJI staff, UCSF Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and the San Francisco Department of Public Health, 2002. (Powerpoint slideshow)

A Pilot Health Assessment of Exotic Dancers in San Francisco
A summer internship project conducted by Executive Director Naomi Akers, as part of the Masters of Public Health Program at San Francisco State University, 2006. (PDF Download) or See the Poster

RenegadeCast: Evaluating Podcast Social Media as a Health Promotion Tool for Sex Workers & Adult Entertainers with Internet Access
Culminating experience project for the Masters in Public Health program at SFSU conducted by Executive Director Naomi Akers, MPH (c) in collaboration with Melissa Gira Grant and St. James Infirmary staff, 2007. (PDF Download) or See the Poster

Providing Educational Opportunities to Sex Workers
Annie Sprinkle’s Dissertation for her PhD at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, 2002. (PDF Download)