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Wallace C, Greenbaum J, Albright K. Global Perspectives on the Health and Social Impacts of Child Trafficking. Pediatrics. 2022 Oct 1; 150(4).
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Survivors of child sex trafficking (CST) experience many health and social sequelae as a result of stigma, discrimination, and barriers to health care. Our objective was to obtain a cross-cultural understanding of these barriers and to explore the relationship between stigmatization and health outcomes through application of the Health Stigma and Discrimination Framework (HSDF). METHODS: In-depth, semistructured interviews were conducted with 45 recognized CST expert service providers. Interview data were analyzed using established content analysis procedures and applied to the HSDF. RESULTS: Barriers to medical and mental health services span each socioecological level of the HSDF, indicating the various contexts in which stigmatization leads to adverse health and social outcomes. Stigmatization of CST survivors is a complex process whereby various factors drive and facilitate the marking of CST survivors as stigmatized. Intersecting stigmas multiply the burden, and manifest in stigma experiences of self-stigmatization, shame, family and community discrimination, and stigma practices of provider discrimination. These lead to reduced access to care, lack of funding, resources, and trained providers, and ultimately result in health and social disparities such as social isolation, difficulty reintegrating, and a myriad of physical health and mental health problems. CONCLUSIONS: The HSDF is a highly applicable framework within which to evaluate stigmatization of CST survivors. This study suggests the utility of stigma-based public health interventions for CST and provides a global understanding of the influence and dynamics of stigmatization unique to CST survivors.