History

The St. James Infirmary was made possible because of the unique vision of Sex Worker rights activists from COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics) and the Exotic Dancers Alliance (EDA) and a timely event in the San Francisco County Jail. Under “Hold and Treat” laws, persons arrested for prostitution charges would be forcibly tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections. In the late 90s, a local woman arrested for soliciting in San Francisco had her blood forcibly drawn in the jail and was not informed as to the nature of the test. Feeling violated, she called members of COYOTE. These members did what they felt was necessary in the face of outright social injustice—they fought back with a proposal: “Sex Workers need to take care of our own, we have a plan and here it is.” Via collaboration with the San Francisco Department of Public Health STD Control and Prevention Section (known as “City Clinic), in 1999 COYOTE and EDA opened the first Occupational Health and Safety Clinic run by and for Sex Workers.

The St. James Infirmary is a non-profit, 501(c)3, that is supported by many organizations and individuals. We offer free, confidential, nonjudgmental medical and social services for current and former Sex Workers of all genders. Since 1999, we have served over 3,200 unique Sex Workers and their partners. Each year we provide:  ~2,000 medical services to over 500 unduplicated Sex Workers; ~2,000 contacts in our syringe distribution & collection program; between 1,500-2,000 street and venue based outreach contacts; and provide peer education workshops to over 500 Sex Worker attendees.

In addition, we provide general presentations on sex work as well as in-depth trainings on health and harm reduction approaches to working with this vibrant and diverse community to hundreds of current and future social/medical service providers in the Bay Area. If you are interested in having us come to your agency and providing your staff with a training, please contact us.

A comprehensive history of our clinic is “The St. James Infirmary: A History” by Alexandra Lutnick, MA. This is Alix’s thesis for her Masters degree, so it’s 27 pages!