Open Access Research article

Homelessness among a cohort of women in street-based sex work: the need for safer environment interventions

Putu Duff12, Kathleen Deering12, Kate Gibson3, Mark Tyndall1 and Kate Shannon124*

Author Affiliations

1 British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, St. Paul's Hospital, 608-1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC, V6Z 1Y6, CANADA

2 School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, 5804 Fairview Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, CANADA

3 WISH Drop-In Centre Society, Vancouver, BC, V6B 1S5, CANADA

4 Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, St. Paul's Hospital, 608-1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC, V6Z 1Y6, CANADA

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:643  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-643

Published: 12 August 2011

Abstract

Background

Drawing on data from a community-based prospective cohort study in Vancouver, Canada, we examined the prevalence and individual, interpersonal and work environment correlates of homelessness among 252 women in street-based sex work.

Methods

Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression using generalized estimating equations (GEE) was used to examine the individual, interpersonal and work environment factors that were associated with homelessness among street-based sex workers.

Results

Among 252 women, 43.3% reported homelessness over an 18-month follow-up period. In the multivariable GEE logistic regression analysis, younger age (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.93; 95%confidence interval [95%CI] 0.93-0.98), sexual violence by non-commercial partners (aOR = 2.14; 95%CI 1.06-4.34), servicing a higher number of clients (10+ per week vs < 10) (aOR = 1.68; 95%CI 1.05-2.69), intensive, daily crack use (aOR = 1.65; 95%CI 1.11-2.45), and servicing clients in public spaces (aOR = 1.52; CI 1.00-2.31) were independently associated with sleeping on the street.

Conclusions

These findings indicate a critical need for safer environment interventions that mitigate the social and physical risks faced by homeless FSWs and increase access to safe, secure housing for women.