PhD Candidate Kat Kolar on Sexual Safety Practices Among Sex Workers

PhD graduate Kat Kolar, in collaboration with Vicky Bungay (UBC) and Chris Atchinson (UVic), published an article in AIDS Care. The article explores the condom use and STI testing practices of sex workers in massage parlours and their clients. The authors find that both the sex workers and their clients use condoms for commercial vaginal sex more frequently than for oral sex and for noncommercial sex.

Kat Kolar obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her dissertation is titled Differentiating the Drug Normalization Framework: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Substance Use among Undergraduate Students in Canada. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UBC researching the social integration of substance use and health inequities impacting people who use illicit drugs.

We have posted the abstract and citation for the article below. The full text can be accessed through Research Gate here.

Kolar, Kat, Chris Atchinson, and Vicky Bungay. 2014. “Sexual Safety Practices of Massage Parlour-Based Sex Workers and Their Clients.” AIDS Care, 26(9):1100-1104.

The Outreach and Research in Community Health Initiatives and Development (ORCHID) project examines social and structural factors that contribute to HIV/AIDS risk among women working in Vancouver’s indoor sex industry and their clients. From 2006 to 2009, two mixed method studies were undertaken in ORCHID: one exploring experiences of women working in the indoor sex industry, mainly in massage parlors, and the other exploring experiences of men as sex “buyers.” Both studies emphasize sexual health and safety, risk and protective behaviors, and related contextual factors. No analyses examining the sexual health and safety practices of massage parlor-based sex workers and clients exist in the Canadian context. To address this gap, we analyze two survey datasets – with 118 sex workers and 116 clients. Upon comparing demographics of sex workers and clients, we discuss their condom use and sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV testing practices. Sex workers and clients reported high rates of condom use for vaginal/anal intercourse. While both groups reported lower rates of condom use for oral sex during sex transactions, clients did so to a greater extent (p < 0.001). Condom use with noncommercial sex partners was reported to be less consistent by both groups. STI testing was higher among sex workers than clients (p < 0.001). Initiatives targeting clients of massage parlor-based sex workers for STI education and testing are needed. Future research should investigate how different types of relationships between sex workers and clients impact their sexual safety practices.

Read the full article here.