The combination of using injection drugs, smoking crack cocaine, having multiple sex partners, and inconsistent condom use results in substantial risk for acquiring and transmitting HIV, and many drug dependent adults who have been arrested on charges of prostitution fit this profile. Existing interventions for reducing HIV risk have had limited efficacy in drug-dependent sex workers, and criminal justice approaches have been ineffective despite their high cost. A potentially ideal alternative is to divert drug-dependet arrestees from prosecution to a treatment that reduces drug use and HIV sex risk behaviors, while providing job skills training and promoting community employment to alleviate the financial need to continue sex work. In order to provide an effective therapeutic alternative to criminal prosecution, we propose to develop a multifaceted intervention that includes methadone treatment and the Therapeutic Workplace. The Therapeutic Workplace is a supported environment in which participants are required to provide drug-free urine samples to access paid job skills training or employment and to maintain the maximum rate of pay. The overall intervention is designed to reduce drug use and HIV risk behaviors, and simultaneously promote employment. The proposed project is a 2-year Stage I behavior therapy development effort that will include the development, manualization and pilot testing of a Therapeutic Workplace intervention tailored to drug- dependent adults arrested for prostitution. In the pilot study, we wll recruit opiate- and cocaine-dependent adults arrested for prostitution from the Eastside District Court in Baltimore. Eligible individuals will be offered methadone treatment in lieu of prosecution and will be required to remain in methadone treatment for 90 days to have the charges against them dropped. After enrolling in methadone treatment, the diverted individuals will be invited to participate in the pilot study. Interested individuals will be randomly assigned to receive the standard methadone treatment services or these services plus the Therapeutic Workplace. The Therapeutic Workplace has two phases. In Phase 1, participants will be offered four months of stipend-supported job training in the Therapeutic Workplace. In Phase 2, participants will be encouraged to seek employment in a community job and will receive wage subsidies for four months for maintaining community employment or engaging in supervised job seeking. Throughout both phases, participants will be required to provide drug-free urine samples to receive Therapeutic Workplace wages (training stipends in Phase 1 and wage subsidies in Phase 2). The wage subsidy program will include drug testing managed by a national supplier of drug-free workplace services. Overall, this treatment could serve as a novel and ideal intervention for drug-dependent adults arrested for prostitution while reducing criminal justice costs.

Public Health Relevance

The Therapeutic Workplace is a motivational intervention of proven efficacy that uses routine drug testing and contingent access to stipend-supported job training and employment to promote drug abstinence. We propose to develop, manualize and pilot test a Therapeutic Workplace intervention tailored to increase drug abstinence and decrease HIV sex risk behaviors in unemployed opiate- and cocaine-dependent adults arrested for prostitution who are diverted from adjudication to treatment. The Therapeutic Workplace could serve as a novel and ideal intervention for diverted drug-dependent adults arrested for prostitution, which could increase abstinence and employment, and reduce HIV risk and recidivism.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Planning Grant (R34)
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Behavioral and Social Science Approaches to Preventing HIV/AIDS Study Section (BSPH)
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Grossman, Debra
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Johns Hopkins University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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