GSHI Team at the 8th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment & Prevention in Vancouver, BC, July 19-22, 2015!

The GSHI team are presenting important new research on criminalization, incarceration, and food insecurity as gaps in HIV treatment and care among marginalized women living with HIV, youth, sex workers, at the 8th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment & Prevention in Vancouver, BC this week.

GSHI's Elena Argento will be giving an oral presentation as part of Oral Abstract Session Track C, 'Female Sex Workers: Insights for Intervention' (WEAC01).The presentation, titled 'Social cohesion among sex workers has an independent effect on reduced client condom refusal in a Canadian setting' is based on GSHI's AESHA Project in Vancouver, BC. The team found that community collectivization and sex worker-led empowerment efforts can lead to a reduced risk of HIV for sex workers, as well as contributing to shifting social norms among clients in the sex industry. This study was conducted before the new laws (C-36), and the findings raise strong concern of the potential negative impacts of C-36 and escalating efforts to criminalize sex workers ability to work together, on the health and safety of sex workers. Watch this presentation here

Key GSHI Team Highlights:

1) Incarceration undermines access to HIV prevention and harm reduction supplies for sex workers who use drugs

  • Women sex workers who inject drugs were found to be incarcerated at alarming rates, with incarceration having an independent effect on reduced access to sterile syringes despite efforts to reduce barriers.
  • This reserach suggests a critical need to scale up access to harm reduction supplies for highly marginalized women while in prison, and healthcare, HIV prevention and harm reduction resources for women during entry or release from jail, detention or prision. Additionally, this research supports national and international calls for the decriminalziation of sex work and drug use.
  • Socias ME, et al. 

2) Criminalization of women living with HIV and gender-based violence linked to gaps in HIV treatment

  • Marginalized women living with HIV continue to be heavily policed and criminalized through HIV non-disclosure, sex work and drug prohibition laws.
  • Criminalization measures - including red zone restrictions, displacement due to policing, and community harassment/ threats of business owners - are major barriers to retention in HIV treatment for marginalized women.
  • Violence of marginalized WLWH linked to gaps in HIV treatment adherence.
  • Critical need for women and gender-focused HIV treatment and care models for WLWH and removal of criminalized and punitive approaches to key populations.
  • Deering K, et al.
  • Goldenberg SM, et al.

3) High rates of food insecurity among marginalized youth (<25 years)

  • Despite food banks and charitable food sources in a high-income setting like Vancouver, one third of youth were still considered food insecure. Financial food insecurity was found to have an independent effect on client condom refusal.
  • This study highlights the need for youth-centered programs to address the social determinants of health, including food security, that are directly linked to HIV risk negotiation and access to treatment.
  • Barreto D, et al.

View the full IAS 2015 Programme here