Like any job, it is important that care is taken to protect one’s employment. For the average worker, this may include getting to work on time, ensuring jobs are completed efficiently and effectively and keeping good health, among other things. For the sex worker, work is all about the body. Taking care of this asset (body) should rank high. It is therefore important that sex workers protect their asset. A sexually transmitted infection (STI) affects your health and ability to work. Once you are not working, it means loss of money.

 

It is therefore important to the business that sex workers care enough about their body to ensure it is healthy: So how can you protect your asset? Here are some simple tips:

 

  • There are about 27 different STIs[1] and although it is not possible to learn all about them, it is important that you know the signs and symptoms of the major ones. This will help you to protect yourself and others.
  • Have regular sexual health checks so you can find any infections early. Some STIs do not have symptoms.  STIs increase the risk of HIV infection and can cause many major health problems such as cervical cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, and pregnancy problems. STIs such as chancroid, herpes, syphilis and trichomoniasis can increase your risk of contracting HIV if exposed to HIV. It is best not to leave an STI untreated. So go to your health care provider for regular check-ups.
  • If you detect any symptoms or notice signs of an infection, you should immediately see your health care provider. Early detection of STIs will lessen the number of lost days on the job.
  • You should not share or accept medication for STIs from your friends.
  • You should not treat your STI yourself.
  • Ensure you begin treatment early for any STI
  • Educate your clients about testing and symptoms.
  • ALWAYS protect your asset by wearing a condom or insisting your client does

 

Your body is your asset and therefore it is important that plans are put in place to ensure the asset is protected. Your plan should include some basic trade rules which must be communicated to your client before working:

 

Decide what services are to be offered, the price and location for the service

  • Explain to the client that your aim is to please and protect him/her and therefore condom use is mandatory
  • Explain to the client that you will stop the service if he/she becomes violent or if s/he refuses to use condoms.

 

Karen, a sex worker from Jamaica explains her pre service routine.

 

“I cannot afford to let anything happen to me, because this is my bread and butter. I always walk with my sanitary bag that has everything I need. There are condoms, wipes, hand sanitizer, and soap. I explain to my clients that for their own safety they have to use a condom and I will have to do a short health check. I check their penis and surrounding area for any bumps, sores or lice. I also check for

 

Karen makes it clear that she does not start a job without checking the client. She talks a little about what she looks for. Go to Checking your Client for some more information that you may find useful.

 


[1]The Medical Institute, http://www.medinstitute.org/public/121.cfm , accessed January 19, 2012.