How "Healthy Hustling" was made

Toronto's prostitutes' resource centre, Maggie's, was the only prostitute-run AIDS prevention project at the Hustler Network conference in San Francisco which inaugurated the Coalition Advocating Safer Hustling. (The conference and the coalition was sponsored by New York City's Gay Men's Health Crisis.) Participation in the network proved its value when several recent studies on HIV transmission and knowledge about HIV transmission among male prostitutes (and one on transvestite prostitutes) were distributed to the network's members. The studies show that male prostitutes are very knowledgable about how HIV is transmitted. The studies also support the message that Maggie's and its Prostiutes' Safe Sex Project (PSSP) have been broadcasting all along -- that the risk of catching HIV is not from having sex for money, but from having risky sex with partners who we trust, love and play with -- from people and activities that are outside the parameters of sex work.

In March 1994, headlines in the London Free Press screamed "Child Porn Suspect has HIV: One of the child victims involved in the police investigation has tested positive." The story ran in all of the Toronto dailies. There were claims that police were trying to locate as many as 140 boys who may have been infected while incarcerated at a youth detention centre in London, Ontario. Politicians were proclaiming that the issue of HIV testing in jails needed to be reconsidered. Hostility and hysteria were being whipped up by the police and the press with lies and misinformation.

Maggie's wanted to respond with something that congratulated boys in the business for educating themselves and their communities and encouraged them to play safe as well as work safe. A preliminary version of "Healthy Hustling" was developed which lacked actual statistics from the studies. Maggie's wanted to gather feedback before distributing the cards in London. We took the cards to the Toronto boys stroll on several occasions where they received a cool reception. We determined that the card would have been seen as more useful if it had provided specific statistics from the studies that could be used by hustlers in their defence when male prostitutes were accused of spreading HIV.

"Healthy Hustling"... [Safe Sex Tips] [Rights Groups]

Created: March 14, 1997
Last modified: March 28, 1998
SWAV Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710