Patterns of sexual commerce among women at US Syringe Exchange Programs

Naomi Braine, Don C. Desjarlais, Cullen Goldblatt, Cathy Zadoretzky, Charles Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the USA, the majority of research on sex work has examined the experiences of women recruited from social locations commonly referred to as the 'sex industry', such as street strolls or escort services. This paper presents data from female syringe exchange participants who had sold sex in the last 30 days. The women interviewed for this study report a much broader array of commercial transactions than found in previous US studies, including selling sex to women, paying men for sex, and considerable role fluidity between buying and selling. In addition, approximately one-third of the women report only selling sex 1 day per week or less, and appear to be more socio-economically stable than women who sell sex more often. We argue that this data suggests the existence of an array of commercial sexual transactions outside of the socially recognized sex industry, and that social location may affect condom use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-302
Number of pages14
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Commercial sex
  • Sex industry
  • Syringe exchange
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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