Category Archives: Chicago


SEP. 2007 • Issue 6

If you’re part of a sex worker activist project and would like to learn from others doing this work, contact the following groups for insight and inspiration:

Different Avenues
Washington, DC
Different Avenues is a peer-led organization working for the rights, health and safety of people at high risk for HIV, and fighting violence and discrimination. The organization works across labels and identities to envision a world where our communities live with justice and well-being. The majority of its constituents are youth and young adults, people who are homeless or just trying to get by, and people who formally or informally exchange sex for things they need. Most of its work is local, but Different Avenues also does its best to support national and global movements for social justice.

Project SAFE
SAFE serves women, including transwomen, and distributes a Bad Date Sheet to help street-based sex workers avoid clients who have attacked other women or stolen their money. Workers call SAFE’s hotline or invite SAFE volunteers to visit them at home (where they feel safer talking than in the street) and give a detailed physical description of the attacker and what happened. Reports are anonymous and shared only with women. This keeps the information from johns and the police (who may arrest or dismiss a sex worker trying to report a rape), builds trust and community, and helps women define what rape is and be heard without being stigmatized.

St. James Infirmary in San Francisco, run by sex workers for sex workers, provides free, non-judgmental healthcare.

Stella, a broad-based sex worker activist group in Montreal, Canada, also has a Continue reading

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Filed under Alternatives to 501c3, California, Canada, Chicago, harm reduction, imperialism/colonialism, Philadelphia, police repression, sex education, sex workers' rights, sexual violence, Solidarity Project, stigma, Washington, DC, women, youth

Top Ten Positive Changes for Agency Staff

By the Young Women’s Empowerment Project (YWEP)

SEP. 2007 • Issue 6

This document was created by YWEP, a group of girls and young women in Chicago, aged 12 to 23, with  experience in the sex trade and street economies. Based on their firsthand knowledge of what has worked – or not worked – for them both as young girls looking for help and youth organizers offering help, these guidelines can help adult activists and social service providers make their efforts more respectful and effective. In the Chicago area, YWEP offers trainings and popular education for girls, as well as trainings for adults (through the Harm Reduction Training Collaborative). They can be reached at 773-728-0127. On its website,, YWEP offers this document and other resources to download.


1) Ask young people currently involved in your program about what they know on this issue. Ask on a one-to-one basis or call for a group to ask what they know.

2) Create a welcoming environment to tell you about it – keep disclosures private (don’t let other youth know, and staff should only talk in private when necessary) and make it known that you are open to listening without judging.

3) Do not have negative consequences for disclosing to staff, like losing level, suspension, or making youth leave your program. Work together to find what the young person wants or needs in their life. Continue reading

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Filed under Alternatives to 501c3, Chicago, harm reduction, sex education, sex workers' rights, sexual violence, Solidarity Project, stigma, trans and gender non-conforming, women, youth

Locked Up and Locked Out: Advocates Join Prisoners in Fight Against Double Epidemic of HIV and Hepatitis C Behind Bars in the United States

By Suzy Subways

NOVEMBER 2006 • Issue 1

An estimated one in four people living with HIV in the United States spends time behind bars each year. Depending on the region, up to a third of incarcerated people may also be living with hepatitis C.

Given these realities, it should be clear that a well-organized effort to address these overlapping diseases behind bars is necessary, and that prisoner health and public health cannot be separated.

Sadly, this sensible conclusion has not been reached by many policymakers or purseholders. Prisoners with HIV and hepatitis C, along with their outside advocates, are left without resources or much organizational support, battling mazes of bureaucracy that vary between cities and states, sharing ideas over the internet and snail mail, and struggling to keep up with the mounting need for advocacy.

As we prepare to enter 2007, there are a handful of efforts – including bills in Congress – that take on the challenge of HIV and hepatitis C in prison. With more eyes finally open to the problems inside prisons and jails, there may be increased opportunities to link and amplify these efforts.

Many activists point out the links between War on Drugs policy and the rate of HIV in the Black community. Between 1982 and 1996, as sentences for minor drug crimes got longer, the percentage of prisoners who were Black increased to well over half. Meanwhile, the National Institute of Justice reported in 2005 that 1.9% of male prisoners and 2.8% of female prisoners have HIV. Continue reading

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Filed under African Americans, Chicago, harm reduction, hepatitis, New York City, Philadelphia, prison, Solidarity Project, Southern United States, treatment access, Uncategorized