Publication Date
Publication Date: 
March 28, 2017

From the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP), this a resource for service providers who want to better understand how information and communication technologies (ICTs) have impacted sex workers and the prevention of HIV. The guide reviews available evidence on the nature of the online sex industry and documents interventions that are utilising new ICT to reach out to sex workers with HIV prevention and treatment messages and linkage to services. It identifies good and bad practice for development and implementing ICT outreach services, based on consultation with 152 sex workers and 7 NSWP member organisations.

The overarching feedback from sex workers was that ICT is a double-edged sword. ICT was seen as expanding and broadening the options available to sex workers for connecting with clients and connecting with the sex worker community. Sex workers talked about how ICT developments and the increasingly widespread use of ICT have meant increased opportunities and flexibility in terms of ways of working. ICT has presented new ways of preventing violence and looking after their safety. However, the same advances that have unlocked these potential benefits for sex workers have also presented new and potential risks. Of all the concerns and risks that ICT presents, issues around maintaining privacy and confidentiality are of greatest concern to sex workers.

Contents include:

Literature review
Consultation with sex workers
Key findings

  • The increase in ICT use by sex workers
  • How has ICT changed sex work?
    • Changes in working venues
    • Recruiting clients
    • Screening clients
    • Payment
  • Difference in ICT use amongst sex workers
  • Advantages and disadvantages of ICT for sex workers
    • Impact on safety
    • Impact on police harassment, abuse, and violence
    • Impact on client harassment, abuse, and violence
    • Impact on privacy and confidentiality
    • Impact on independence
    • Impact on other aspects of business
    • Impact on social cohesion
    • Impact on HIV/STI [sexually transmitted infection] vulnerability
  • ICT-mediated services for sex workers

Recommendations for service providers

  • Recommendations for accessing sex workers
  • Recommendations regarding security
  • Recommendations regarding services needed
  • Recommendations regarding the introduction of innovative technologies
  • Recommendations for multilateral agencies and donors

NSWP is a membership organisation consisting of local, national, or regional sex worker-led organisations and networks across five regions: Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and North America and the Caribbean. It exists to uphold the voice of sex workers globally and connect regional networks advocating for the rights of female, male, and transgender sex workers.


English; it is in the process of being made available in Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish.

Number of Pages: 



NSWP website, February 6 2018. Image credit: © Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW)