- Podcast Interview Transcript
In each volume of Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, the editors select one article for our Beyond the Manuscript podcast interview with the authors. Beyond the Manuscript provides authors with the opportunity to tell listeners what they would want to know about the project beyond what went into the final manuscript. Beyond the Manuscript podcasts are available for download on the journal's website (http://www.press-dev.jhu.edu/journals/progress_in_community_health_partnerships/multimedia.html). This Beyond the Manuscript podcast is with Valencia Remple of the British Columbia Center for Disease Control and lead author of, "Conducting HIV, AIDS Research with Indoor Commercial Sex Workers Reaching a Hidden Population," and Soni Thindal, program coordinator for Project ORCHID of the Asian Society for the Intervention of AIDS in Vancouver, British Columbia. Monique Tello, Associate Editor and Senior Clinical Fellow at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, conducted the interview. The following is an edited transcript of the Beyond the Manuscript podcast.
Monique Tello: We loved this project! We were very enthusiastic when we heard about it. Can you provide a brief summary of the project?
Valencia Remple: Yes, Monique. I can do that. This was a huge project. When I started working with [the Asian Society for the Intervention of AIDS] ASIA, the community-based organization, we found that indoor commercial sex workers comprise about 80% of the indoor sex industry in Canada. Despite them being the largest segment, they're completely underrepresented in research, ignored by health services, educational services, etc, because I think nobody knows what the risk environment is and they're extremely hard to access. So, we actually had a twofold purpose for this project. From the research perspective, we wanted to explore the HIV and [sexually transmitted disease] STD risk environment of this population because nothing was known about it. I think most research on commercial sex workers is done with street-based women and men. We felt that the indoor environment was probably very different. The further purpose of this two-arm project. was to develop a model to gain access to, and to deliver HIV and STD health education and prevention services.
The research results that we found to date and there are many so I'll try to keep it brief. We're finding that condom use, one of the safer sex practices within the community, is pretty good. They're quite high overall. The women who work inside tend to have pretty high knowledge about HIV acquisition risks and transmission. They generally know how to use condoms appropriately and they claim to do so. But their knowledge about STDs is actually pretty low.
What's concerning to us, however, is that they're fairly knowledgeable and they're practicing safer sex behaviors, but we're starting to find that there seem to be subgroups within the indoor sex community, such as immigrant women, recent immigrants, women from certain ethnic or racial or cultural groups, that have never heard of HIV or other STDs. They really know nothing about it. They know nothing about protecting themselves. We're starting to hypothesize that their risk [End Page 169] environment may depend on quite a wide variety of factors such as the cultural context, what country of origin they come from, and different sex establishments as well. There's contextual differences there, for example, the house rules; what the management policies are. We're just now starting to explore some of these contextual factors that would influence decision making or risk practices.
Monique Tello: That's wonderful. Now this specific project seems to have started from a pilot project by ASIA, the Asian Society for the Intervention of AIDS. Maybe Soni could tell us a little bit about that project that led into this larger project?
Soni Thindal: That project was the pilot project conducted with a group of women from the Philippines. It was a pilot project that was about connecting with women who were immigrating from the Philippines. So we connected with organizations there, and it was connecting them with services. The trouble was what was happening to...