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Adult Entertainment Workers Need Health Intervention: Study

Update Date: Nov 29, 2012 05:57 AM EST

Most of the adult entertainment club workers - exotic dancers and other female club employees - do not have great medical benefits, owing to the fact that the nature of their work puts them at a high risk of unwanted sexual advances and behavior. Apart from the sexual behavior, some of them may also involve in substance abuse, putting them at greater unchecked health risks.

In order to measure the incidence of substance abuse and risky sexual behavior among adult entertainers, Esther Choo, M.D., emergency medicine physician at Rhode Island Hospital, conducted a survey involving 69 female adult entertainment club workers in Rhode Island, Medical Xpress reported.

"We went into the study expecting the incidence of substance abuse and other risky health behaviors to be relatively high," Choo said. "But we didn't expect that many of the women surveyed had never been tested for HIV and in fact were not well educated on the risk factors." She continued, "Many adult entertainment club workers don't have access to basic healthcare, meaning they do not have routine physicals, and they don't have access to physicians for sick visits, tests or preventative measures that could help to mitigate their health risks."

According to the report, there are about 500,000 in the adult entertainment sector in the U.S.

Women in this sector come across frequent unwanted sexual contact and this job is characterized by social stigmatization and isolation, and the entertainers don't even have legal empowerment against harassment.

Among people involved in these jobs, there is a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and yet, these are also the people with lowest rates of health checkups and testing for these diseases.

The survey for the current study was compared with a sample of non-club worker females in the same state, and around the same age group. The questions asked in the survey were pertaining to the workers' general health, work patterns, workplace environment and safety.

In 2009, the buying and selling of sexual services was criminalized in Rhode Island. Hence, the researchers did not ask questions specifically about sexual contact at work, in order to avoid implying that the participants engaged in illegal activities.

"This study shows that we must be more proactive in educating this population," Choo said. "If they aren't being tested for HIV, nor protecting themselves, then they could contract and further spread the illness. By providing this population with information and appropriate interventions, we may be able to reduce the health risks and increase the number of adult entertainment club workers who seek necessary care and treatment in the future."

Choo is a member at the hospital of the Lifespan health system in Rhode Island. She also has an academic appointment at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, department of emergency medicine. The results were recently published in the journal Women & Health.

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