A primary health care service for Glasgow street sex workers--6 years experience of the "drop-in centre', 1989-1994

AIDS Care. 1996 Aug;8(4):489-97. doi: 10.1080/09540129650125678.


In Glasgow, a health and social care centre opened in 1988 principally to facilitate HIV prevention among street prostitutes, most of whom are injecting drug users. During 1992 to 1994, 551 women made 17,554 visits to the medical room which is functional 5 nights per week. The mean age of the sex workers was 26 years (range 15 to 62) and 89% injected drugs. Fifty-five per cent of the attendances were for needle/syringe exchange only whilst the remainder involved other health care provision. Common presenting problems included abscesses, burns and venous thromboses, reflecting the high proportion of sex workers who injected drugs. Most women always used condoms for penetrative commercial sex and symptomatic sexually transmitted disease was seen infrequently. In addition to the provision of injecting equipment and condoms, other key prevention activities included Hepatitis B vaccination and cervical screening. The prevalence of HIV infection amongst the women remains under 5% and most seropositives were known to be infected before the Centre opened. This initiative shows that if multidisciplinary health and social services are provided to street sex workers at a time and place convenient to their work, the benefits are considerable.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Contraception
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Medical Audit
  • Middle Aged
  • Needle-Exchange Programs / statistics & numerical data
  • Nursing Audit
  • Primary Prevention*
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Scotland
  • Sex Work*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications
  • Vaginal Smears