An Evaluation of Sex Workers' Health Access (AESHA) is a key project of the BC-CfE's Gender and Sexual Health Initiative (GSHI). AESHA is a longitudinal study of female sex workers’ health and safety both on and off the street, building on long-term community partnerships with WISH Drop-In Centre Society, the Downtown East Side Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV) group, and other sex work agencies. While AESHA continues to focus on women struggling with poverty and/or addictions, AESHA includes women working both on the street and in bars, informal indoor spaces, micro-brothels, and massage parlors. Women are invited through outreach for baseline and six monthly follow-up interviews.
AESHA objectives are to evaluate the impact of structural interventions (e.g. legal/policy approaches, urban renewal), and the physical and social environment (e.g. access to safer sex work spaces, supportive housing, peer support networks) on sex workers’ health outcomes and access to care, including violence, sexual health, and HIV/STIs.
AESHA findings have been published in dozens of peer-reviewed papers, and presented at multiple community, academic, and public policy events, including evidence in the BC charter challenge to Canada's prostitution legislation. AESHA continues to monitor and inform evidence-based policies and interventions that promote the health and safety of sex workers, their clients, and non-commercial partners.
AESHA information is currently supporting the evaluation of the Rainier Hotel, a housing and residential treatment program for sex workers that is operated by Vancouver Coastal Health and the Portland Hotel Society, as well as the City of Vancouver Agreement Sex Work Demonstration Project.