PERSIST Health Project

Location

New York
United States
Contact email: 
sarah@persisthealthproject.org
Who do you work with?: 
PERSIST serves people with experience in the sex trade who span many different identities and types of work. Our clients include both cis and trans men and women. Some identify as survivors of trafficking. We work directly with our clients to connect them to necessary health, social service, and financial resources.
How are sex workers involved in your organisation?: 
The majority of our staff and many of our volunteers have experience in the sex trade. Staff members and volunteers who do not identify as sex workers are our committed allies. As staff members, volunteers, interns, and supporters, sex workers contribute to and define the structure, direction, and impact of our work.
Which of NSWP priority areas does your organisation work on?: 
Oppose the criminalisation and other legal oppression of sex work and support its recognition as work
Advocate for universal access to health services, including primary health care, HIV and sexual and reproductive health services
Speak out about violence against sex workers, including violence from police, institutions, clients, and intimate partners, while challenging the myth that sex work is inherently gender-based violence
Challenge stigma and discrimination against sex workers, their families and partners, and others involved in sex work
What are the two main challenges that the sex workers you work with face: 
As a health service organisation, we have seen that one of the main challenges our clients face is access to care. Many clients are low-income, do not have health insurance, and do not have access to routine care. Another challenge is stigma. Even when people with experience in the sex trade in our area are able to access care, they often see providers who are judgemental and shame them for their work, or who are ignorant and cannot understand or meet their unique needs. For that reason, we help.
Describe other areas of your work: 
In addition to providing health services, we conduct a number of other programs. We train health care providers in cultural competency issues regarding the sex work-engaged population. We organise community and educational events. Finally, we address policy issues that impact the sex worker community, such as police use of condom possession as evidence of prostitution.