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Serbia: Exchange of experiences between Serbian and Bulgarian sex work harm reduction groups

During the project different groups of professionals such as physicians, nurses and social workers are sensitized on the needs of sex workers and trained on developing services for them. Cooperation with the police is established through an exchange workshop for police officers from the two countries in The Netherlands and local workshops in Belgrade and Sofia. Ties with law enforcement agencies are necessary due to the fact that sex work is illegal in Serbia, and organization of brothels is illegal in Bulgaria. Consequently, sex workers resist the official health promotion activities.

Street sex workers are in the focus of the outreach activities in Serbia. Twelve trained outreach workers visit the hotspots in Belgrade and surroundings daily to speak with sex workers about their health and safer sex, to distribute condoms and lubricants, and provide social support when needed. The POP project also provided a mobile medical unit that visits the hot spots three times a week with three dermatologists, one general practitioner and one psychiatrist on board.

The activities in Sofia target indoor sex workers. In Bulgaria sex work is not forbidden but the organization of sex work (i.e. brothels and clubs) is. Due to a good preparation the outreach workers of HESED manage to establish contacts with indoor sex workers on a regular base. Like in Belgrade, STI and HIV counseling, tests and care is provided. The relative high numbers of positive outcomes of HIV and STI tests prove these services necessary.

Contac person: Ana Krajnc, JAZAS, Serbia
E-mail Address: krajnca@hotmail.com  
Website: www.jazas.net