Including Sex Workers for Health Equity
Stigma and criminalization have always created barriers for sex workers seeking safety, healthcare, and services, and DAP Health is increasing outreach to this community for care and a variety of ongoing services. The Community Health department has started recruiting for community health educators with sex worker experience, a move to continue building cultural competence in a community growing more desperate for relief as the pandemic continues.
With social distancing causing in-person business to drop off, and criminalization of their work making collecting unemployment impossible, sex workers are facing increased health equity challenges that threaten them and their partners.
“We understand and care about people who survive through sex work,” says C.J. Tobe, Community Health director. “Stigma surrounding sex is very much alive and this pandemic has exacerbated the spotlight on it.”
STI rates remain the highest they have been for California in three decades, and many in the Coachella Valley continue facing new barriers to care and treatment as COVID continues.
Current and former sex workers experience more violence, legal involvements, and social stigmatization than most people, making it harder to obtain healthcare. Other serious barriers are closely linked to poverty, substance use, disability, immigration, sexism, racism, transphobia, and homophobia. Experts say due to this, opportunities to access mental health resources are considered extra beneficial for sex workers, although they are usually unavailable.
So Much More Than Medical Care
Throughout 2021, the DAP Health Behavioral Health department is doubling its capacity to see patients for therapy by California licensed psychotherapists, as well as a variety of peer groups. The team is skilled at addressing many of the challenges affecting sex workers, and services are available in-person as well as via Virtual Visit.
DAP Health’s holistic model aims to address social determinants that lead to negative health outcomes, especially those related to the pandemic — this includes food and housing insecurity, joblessness, isolation and access to health care.
Read more about DAP Health, plus its expanding role in public health and health equity here.
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About DAP Health
DAP Health (DAP) is an advocacy-based health center in Palm Springs, CA serving over 9,700 patients, offering medical and mental healthcare, STI testing and treatment, dentistry, pharmacy, and lab. A variety of wraparound services enable patients to experience optimal health, including social services, support groups, alternative therapies, and other wellness services. Excellent HIV care is provided by the largest team of specialized clinicians in the area.
DAP opened one of California’s first COVID clinic and hotlines to offer screening, testing, and treatment. DAP is also working to address social determinants of health that are causing negative health outcomes during this pandemic, like food and housing insecurity, joblessness, isolation, and access to ongoing healthcare.
DAP’s sexual health clinic offers STI testing and treatment, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and HCV testing. DAP has earned Charity Navigator’s highest rating for the twelfth consecutive year – landing DAP in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that DAP exceeds industry standards in terms of financial health, accountability, and transparency.