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Sex Worker Agency Turns 21

14 October 2011

Some of Australia's foremost sex industry advocates and entertainers are set to help NSW's leading sex worker health agency come of age next week when it commemorates 21 years of service to sex industry workers.

The Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) is a project of ACON, NSW's and Australia's largest community-based HIV/AIDS organisation. SWOP provides sexual health information and support to sex workers in NSW, specifically in relation to HIV and other sexually transmissible infections (STIs). SWOP also works with sex industry owners and operators to encourage the acceptance and maintenance of safe sex practices and other forms of workplace health and safety.

In the early 1980s, sex workers in NSW came together to respond to the HIV epidemic and the enormous threat the virus represented to the health and wellbeing of themselves and their clients. Their courageous work paved the way for SWOP to be established in 1990 with funding from the NSW Government. SWOP General Manager Lance Schema says over the last 21 years, SWOP has helped sex workers continue this important work.

"Sex workers have a long history of protecting public health and contributing to NSW's world-leading response to HIV," Mr Schema says. "Not one case of HIV transmission in NSW has ever been reported from a sex worker and the transmission of other STIs is also much lower among sex workers in NSW than the general population. This is because NSW has some of the highest rates of condom use among sex workers anywhere in the world. In fact, recent research by UNSW's Kirby Institute found that 99 per cent of commercial sex encounters in NSW involve a condom and that STI rates among sex workers are at a historic low."

"This is a remarkable public health outcome that has only been possible through the combined efforts of sex industry workers as well as the support provided by the NSW Government, research bodies and community-based organisations such as SWOP. We're extremely proud to be part of this extraordinary legacy and we look forward to continuing to improve the health and safety of sex workers throughout NSW in the years ahead."


SWOP Stats 2010/11

  • Number of clients: 5900 (there are approx. 10,000 sex workers in NSW)
  • Number of safe sex packs (condoms & lube) distributed: 87,750
  • Units of safe injecting equipment distributed: 19,700
  • Units of educational literature distributed: 24,700
  • Visitors to SWOP website: 82,400


Media representatives are invited to attend SWOP's 21st anniversary commemorations.

Speakers include:
Writer and social commentator Eva Cox
Scarlet Alliance Chief Executive Officer Janelle Fawkes

Performance by:
Australian Sex Party Senate candidate, Penthouse Pet Centrefold and award winning pole-dancer, Zahra Stardust

Gift bags by:
Sexual health company Glyde Health


What, when, where?

What:  SWOP 21st anniversary commemorations
When: Wednesday 19 October, 5pm
Where: 414 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills
RSVP: jackiem@swop.org.au


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For more information or to arrange an interview or photo opportunity, please contact us.

Contact: Andrew Hamadanian, Media and Communications Officer, ACON

Tel: (02) 9206 2044  
Mobile: 0419 555 768 

Email: ahamadanian@acon.org.au