SEX WORKERS: San Francisco Clinic Caters to Health Needs
A partnership between the city of San Francisco and sex industry activists has led to the opening of one of the "nation's first occupational health and safety clinics" for prostitutes, strippers and escorts, the Sacramento Bee reports. St. James Infirmary, which operates out of San Francisco's City Clinic, opened in June as a place where sex workers can obtain "free and confidential medical care, condoms, legal advice, counseling and handouts from the clinic's food bank." Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, director of the city Department of Public Health's sexually transmitted diseases division, said, "We provide non-judgmental care. What people do in their private lives or on their own time is not relevant to their health care or social needs." The Health Department staffs the clinic with two nurse practitioners and volunteers from several organizations, including the Exotic Dancers Alliance, the Bay Area Sex Workers Advocacy Network and COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics). St. James currently only sees patients from 6 to 9 P.M. on Wednesdays, but administrators say they hope to raise enough cash in six months to operate full time and run their own office. Founding member Margo St. James said, "We are trying to funnel the sex workers into the mainstream. We've got to demystify it. We've got to accept them as human beings." The Bee reports that the only other such clinic, the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation, opened last year in Los Angeles. That clinic's founder, "former porn star" Sharon Mitchell, says it sees 390 patients per month and is "wildly successful," providing HIV partner notification for adult film workers as well as care and counseling. She said, "There is so much shame in the game ... you really need clarity of understanding from the health workers. Imagine the body part you rely on for work being injured" (Lelchuk, 7/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.