Like everyone, women and gender diverse folks who engage in street-based sex work require regular health care, but often face barriers to access, including a feeling of judgment and stigma from healthcare professionals, not feeling safe in local clinics or potentially seeing dealers or abusive male partners in traditional healthcare spaces.
Unfortunately, WISH’s health clinic, located within the Drop-In Centre, remains closed and unused due to a lack of medical staff.
For communities and people who face systemic barriers, stigma and discrimination — such as street-based sex workers — accessing mainstream hospitals or clinics can present multiple barriers and result in avoidance. People should be able to receive care in a setting in which they feel safe and with practitioners, they feel they can trust.
Fortunately, WISH has since become one of many community partners working with Kilala Lelum’s Mobile Outreach Program. The mobile clinic focuses on primary care outreach drop-in clinics in the Downtown Eastside three times a week. At WISH, the mobile clinic visits twice a month — once with a physician, and once with the support of a nurse and an Indigenous Knowledge Keeper. Despite this, there is still a critical need for more physician sessions at WISH.
The mobile clinic has highlighted the critical need for the co-location of services. Bringing services to the locations where people feel safe and are already accessing multiple services and adapting to the context that people are already in is a crucial step that is often missed by the health care system.
- Kilala Lelum Urban Indigenous Health and Healing Cooperative
- BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre
- Vancouver Women’s Health Collective