Sex Work & Harm Reduction

The above video and supplementary documents were designed in 2010 by the Speak Up! Media Training class (under the name of Sex Work Awareness, RedUP’s predecessor) to spark discussion and create inspiration for looking at the ways that peer-led groups providing support and services to sex workers in their communities can collaborate with harm reduction agencies.

We were motivated to produce this project because we know that the sex work and harm reduction communities overlap in many ways, and we see a lot of value in making an effort to work together. Some of the producers of this project also work in harm reduction or have received harm reduction services. Beyond being allied communities, we acknowledge that many sex workers are also injection drug users, including users of controlled substances and transgender women and men who inject hormones.

Throughout the United States, both sex workers and intravenous drug users are targeted with similarly discriminatory laws that create harm in our communities instead of giving us better opportunities to reduce risks and lead more healthful lives. For example, in many states, police can use possession of condoms as evidence of prostitution, similarly possession of syringes are used as evidence of illegal drug possession. Because of these types of commonalities, we have created a short public service announcement video and a packet of materials that we hope will further dialogue among our communities.


Download the six page PDF (currently available in English only) of materials here. The document includes the following:

  • Statement by the International Sex Worker Harm Reduction Caucus: Sex Workers Are Key Players in Promoting Human Rights and Harm Reduction
  • Collaboration Story: SWOP Chicago & Chicago Recovery Alliance
  • Personal Story: How Harm Reduction Services Supported A Sex Worker
  • Transcript: Nothing About Us Without Us: Public Service Announcement Video

Production Process

The video was produced by the class of 2010 Speak Up! Media Training. During the training, which develops the communication and media skills of sex workers and former sex workers who wish to become or are already spokespeople in their communities, the group of nine created a strategy for the communications output of the project, collaboratively wrote the script to the video, and some members of the group appeared on camera. The written materials were gathered with the guidance and support of the group and our colleagues.

We hope that you will find these materials useful. This guide is released with a  Creative Commons Share Alike license, so you may adapt these materials for your own projects or publications, but you may not sell them. Also, if you do use the materials, remember to indicate that they were developed by Red Umbrella Project (formerly Sex Work Awareness) or that you have adapted our materials. Lastly, we’d love to hear what you do; please let us know how you use this guide by emailing