Strathclyde Social Work Department currently manages a service for prostitutes which it runs jointly with the Greater Glasgow Health Board. By 1991 over 500 women were using the service. In this chapter I shall look at why such a service was set up in the West of Scotland and how it has developed.
Throughout 1986 knowledge was growing about AIDS and HIV and there was increasing concern about the risks, particularly for drug injectors. Information gained from the work of Roy Robertson, a General Practitioner whose practice included a peripheral housing estate in Edinburgh, suggested that up to 50 per cent of drug injectors might be seropositive for HIV (Robertson et al. 1986). An uncompleted piece of research postulated that there might be as many as 2,000 drug injectors in Edinburgh (Haw and Liddell 1987). Earlier research (Haw 1985) had suggested that there might be 5,000 drug injectors in Glasgow. According to drug projects and area teams, and from the number of referrals to residential rehabilitation communities, it was clear that drug use had continued to rise since the publication of this research.
Strathclyde Social Work Department, which provides services to a population of almost three million, felt that there was considerable cause for concern. The multidisciplinary group involved in compiling the Department’s strategic response to AIDS and HIV suggested that there were between 10,000 and 12,000 drug injectors (Strathclyde Regional Council 1988). It was also known that many female drug injectors raised money for drugs by means of prostitution. They were therefore at risk in two ways—from injecting and from heterosexual spread.
There were a number of factors which contributed to the development of a service for prostitutes. In the absence of a strategic response from the