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Simultaneously, the conference aimed to bridge the sex worker’s rights movement to new potential and external allies of entertainment workers (i.e., singers, dancers, actors, bar girls), who had traditionally engaged in informal sex work and currently face increasing economic pressures toward sex work as the waning caste system has de-stigmatized performance activities but enables the expanding middle class to adopt performance as hobby or profession. Swendeman’s research documented strong support for the first aim; the idea that sex work is essentially entertainment and involves much more that sexual intercourse resonated strongly with sex workers.Support for the second aim was mixed; while the entertainment workers participating in the conference supported the broad idea of sex work as entertainment work and supported the sex worker’s rights movement, they were not willing to embrace the sex work undercurrents of their lived experience or to join a Durbar led social movement of entertainment workers that included sex workers.Follow-up rates were high with 90% average retention and 80% completing all four assessments.Both neighborhoods received a reproductive health clinic that provided STI diagnosis and treatment, as well as in-clinic peer education and condom promotion as standard care.The proportion of consistent condom users increased 25% in the intervention community compared with a 16% decrease in the control community (Basu et al., 2004).Results for improvements in empowerment parallel those for condom use (Swendeman et al., 2009).Local significance (How has this project impacted the immediate population?): The project has been expanded to 60 sties throughout Kolkata and West Bengal, India, transforming the power dynamics within sex work communities (red-light areas) to support HIV/STD prevention and treatment, and the health and well being of sex workers and their children and families.
The CHIPTS funded research supported the use of the survey in two of Durbar’s original intervention communities in Kolkata (n=100 in each), completed in December 2007, to provide pilot data for future research as well as a baseline comparison for replication sites (the pilot survey is also being implemented in the Bill and Melinda Gate’s Foundation funded replication of the Durbar model in other states in India).Consistent with HIV/AIDS related research findings globally, stigma remains a significant barrier to engaging at-risk populations in HIV prevention.Intervention model: Community-Led Structural Intervention (CLSI). The CLSI is a multi-level intervention framework that draws on community-based participatory and empowerment approaches while emphasizing the more recent focus in HIV prevention for structural interventions.Female sex workers were selected through two-stage random selection of houses and residents in two towns’ sex work neighborhoods, or red-light areas (n=110 in each).Women were recruited to participate with informed consent and interviewed four times over 16 months.