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"I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want" The health and wellbeing needs of male sex workers

Turner, Kevin; Meyrick, Jane; Wood, Matt


Matt Wood


Male sex workers continue to be underrepresented in both the academic literature and across health and service care provision. Previous attempts to address health and wellbeing needs are limited to a sexual health focus or are based on the comparative needs of female street-based counterparts. The aim of this qualitative study is to investigate the health and wellbeing needs of men working across a variety of industry platforms.

A stakeholder group representative of sex worker support organisations, sex work researchers and male sex workers was formed to inform the research project from conception to dissemination. Men aged 18 or over, who were based in the UK and were active, or had previous experience of accepting rewards for sex were recruited through sex worker support organisations, online commercial platforms and by interparticipant referral. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken online using Zoom video-conferencing software. Interviews were audio recorded and later transcribed with collected data analysed using a thematic analysis.

14 participants were included in the study. 2 identified as Trans Men, from a range of sexual orientations 6 identified as straight. The mean age of participants was 38 years, representing an age range of 25-72 years. 13 were actively working in the industry, 1 was retired. 5 presented as a Male Sex Worker, whilst others used a range of terms to describe their experiences.
Within the developed themes participants spoke about (1) identity and the impact of language in navigating and understanding their experiences (2) Tools of the trade, including performance/image enhancers, alcohol and drug use and the importance of STI certificates (3) Recommendations to support their health and wellbeing including access to peer and mental health support.

Conceptualised as a ‘hard to reach population’ this study demonstrates that male sex workers are approachable and willing to engage in ethical research about their health and wellbeing needs. Findings surface unique health and wellbeing needs that exist outside of a focus on research focusing on HIV risk behaviour which otherwise limits our understanding of male sex workers and the impact this has on how they are perceived in society.

Presentation Conference Type Poster
Conference Name STI & HIV 2024 World Conference
Start Date Jul 24, 2023
End Date Jun 27, 2024
Deposit Date Jun 28, 2024
Keywords Sex Worker
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