The Ministry of Health has sought to shed some light on its five-year Sex Work Project which was concluded in 2007, and “to bring some clarity to the current public debate spawned by media articles and comments”.
According to Dr. Anton Best, Senior Medical Officer of Health with responsibility for the HIV/AIDS Programme, “There have been some misinterpretations and inaccuracies in the media following the release of the study findings.
“It is unfortunate that the demographic data, specifically the nationality of the study participants, was believed to be representative of all the sex workers in Barbados. Erroneous inferences were made regarding the relative nationalities of sex workers who operate in Barbados. The issue of extrapolation of this data to make general statements of the national origin of Sex Workers who operate in Barbados, was raised and discussed at a press briefing on November 28.”
He went on: “It clearly stated that there may have been an over representation of non-national sex workers as in the study. It was further explained that whereas some Barbadian sex workers would interact and express their views and opinions with the project staff, they were largely reluctant to be part of the formal study.
“The study conducted by the Sex Workers Project was conceptualised as a needs assessment of sex workers in Barbados. This phase of the study was built on general contextual and situational information acquired through a previous Mapping Study of Sex work. The Project engaged sex workers in open discussion of their concerns, ideas, issues and ascertained levels of knowledge on HIV and STIs and the use of prevention methods.”
Dr. Best further asserted that “the baseline study provides data on sex work in Barbados which will guide the design of targeted HIV and STI prevention strategies.
This is an integral component of the Ministry of Health’s mandate to address STIs and HIV in Barbados. The Project also aims to effectively address all social and health issues among sex workers. The study itself is scientifically sound and any criticism of it should not be based on erroneous inferences,” he argued.