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Ciência & Saúde Coletiva

On-line version ISSN 1678-4561Print version ISSN 1413-8123


MEIS, Carla De. Culture and empowerment: health promotion and Aids prevention among prostitutes in Rio de Janeiro. Ciênc. saúde coletiva [online]. 2011, vol.16, suppl.1, pp.1437-1444. ISSN 1678-4561.

This paper discusses the difficulties that can arise when health promotion projects are developed within marginalized groups. This could be documented using the example of aids prevention among prostitutes. We applied questionnaires and focus group interviews were performed with prostitutes in Mangue, Rio de Janeiro in 1989. Later, during the decade of 1990, we accomplished open interviews with prostitutes who frequented São João Square in Niterói and with the leaders of the prostitutes' movement of Rio de Janeiro. During the analysis of the interviews we observed that although, from a public health point of view, prostitutes are considered as a group, they seldom represent themselves in this way. In other words, while the goal of health promotion agencies and the prostitute' movement is to build a prostitutes' grassroots movement able to organize and fight for prostitutes' rights and citizenship, most of the subjects studied believed that prostitution was an evil activity and consequently created narratives which denied their belonging to the prostitutes' community.

Keywords : Stigma; Empowerment; Community organization and health promotion; Prostitution.

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