Tag: sex workers

What you need to know about SESTA and the recent seizure of Backpage

Late last week, classified ad website Backpage.com went offline after being seized and disabled due to an “enforcement action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division”. Backpage.com is known for personal ads, and was considered by many to be the dominant online platform for sex workers to advertise their services.

Various websites have been shutting down their personal ads section in response to the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA), which has taken aim at online platforms as a playing a perceived role in sex trafficking and prostitution. While many advocates have been fighting SESTA for a large part of the year, awareness seems to be low of the laws implications among the general population.

Advocates against SESTA argue that the act will do more harm than good in regards to the safety of sex workers. Online platforms for sex work have been viewed as safer than street based sex work, allowing for screening of potential clients. Others have argued that SESTA would limit online free speech, arguing that it would require platforms to put strong restrictions on users’ speech, extending beyond the space of personal ads. If you’re interested in seeing what you can do stop SESTA, check out https://stopsesta.org for more information on how to contact your elected officials.


Sources – Buzzfeed News: Backpage Has Been Taken Down By The US Government And Sex Workers Aren’t Happy – https://www.buzzfeed.com/blakemontgomery/backpage-service-disruption?utm_term=.mceyodXp#.bkjAQmNK

Kate Muessig, PhD, Talks About Tech in Public Health

Kate Muessig, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill. Muessig has done a plethora of research, primarily focused on improving HIV/STI prevention and care in China among sex workers as well as in North Carolina among men who have sex with men. Much of her research focuses on developing eHealth and mHealth interventions for these populations.

Currently, Muessig is working with a research team developing a tablet-based virtual reality program for HIV-positive males that will help them develop effective communication and decision-making skills around disclosing their HIV status to others, particularly intimate partners. She is also working on creating an mHealth app for HIV-positive patients in China to assist in navigating the complex Chinese healthcare system for HIV, continuing regular care, adhering to prescribed treatments and medications, and providing an accurate resource for more information about the disease.

Muessig hopes that public health and technology can be more integrated in the future. In her experience, she describes one of the key challenges as developing common language and navigating different work styles and funding mechanisms in the collaborations between academia and technology development groups. Muessig stresses that technology has the potential to be an invaluable health tool, but researchers and health professions need to develop useful new health behavior theories that incorporate a technological component, establish best practices for eHealth and mHealth interventions, and learn how to create self-sustaining, desirable apps and websites all while making meaningful impacts on major health concerns.

Read more about Kate Muessig and her research.

How do you think technology is changing public health research and interventions? Is technology helping or hindering public health efforts? How can technology be used as an ‘invaluable health tool?’

Photo source: UNC