Bill McCarthy and colleagues' paper "Stigma, Sex Work, and Substance Use" published in the Sociology of Health and Illness.
In this paper, Cecilia Benoit (University of Victoria), Bill McCarthy, and Mikael Jansson (University of Victoria) note that an extensive literature claims that stigma negatively affects health. However, few studies compare groups that vary in the extent to which they are stigmatized and even fewer studies examine stigma’s independent and mediating effects. This article addresses these gaps in a comparative study of perceived stigma and drug use among three low-income feminised service occupations: sex work, food and alcoholic beverage serving, and barbering and hairstyling. An analysis of longitudinal data shows positive associations between sex work, perceived stigma, and socially less acceptable drug use (for example, heroin and cocaine), and that stigma mediates part of the link between sex work and the use of these drugs. These findings suggest that perceived stigma is pronounced among those who work in the sex industry and negatively affects health independently of sex work involvement.