Human sex trafficking is a nuanced, multidimensional crime of economics and power according to HEAL Trafficking, a group dedicated to building health care’s capacity to respond to trafficking. Health care professionals are on the front lines of making an impact at curbing the crime as the majority of trafficked persons access health care while being trafficked.
In an effort to support the continuing education of the local health care community, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) School of Medicine in Amarillo and the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health in Amarillo and Abilene will host, “They are Not for Sale: Human Sex Trafficking Symposium” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 16.
“Health care providers need to be informed and equipped with resources and be mindful of the impact of decisions made in a clinical setting,” Angela Knapp Eggers, senior director of the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health, said. “That’s what this symposium is intended for - ensuring our clinicians and staff know what to look for and how to react and who to contact. Every victim could be depending on us!”
Jordan Greenbaum, M.D., medical director for the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children and co-chair of HEAL Trafficking, will be the keynote speaker. Other speakers include:
- Ariel Rodriguez, investigator from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
- Teresa Baker, M.D., professor of OB/GYN at TTUHSC
- Rachel May Anderson, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at TTUHSC
- Amy Stark, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry at TTUHSC
- Lisa G. Bownds, Reflection Ministries CEO and founder
The symposium will provide information to health care providers on the diversity of ways that those who experience trafficking may present; how to use human trafficking screens to assess risk of exploitation, how to apply trauma-informed, rights-based strategies when encountering challenging situations and how to work with trafficked patients to determine future safety and health needs.
The physical effects of sex trafficking and exploitation can include injury, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancy and complications, substance abuse and untreated chronic disease. Mental health issues like PTSD, depression, anxiety, hostility and high-risk behaviors also can arise. Health care providers have a critical role in survivorship through empowering their patients by offering them choices in their treatments, allowing them to ask questions and focusing on their strengths as a survivor.
“It is clear that sex trafficking damages or destroys many young people’s lives,” Richard Jordan, M.D., TTUHSC School of Medicine regional dean, said. “We know we won’t solve the problem with this symposium. All of us can be important parts of the effort to rescue victims and to fight sex trafficking.”
The symposium will be virtual via Zoom. Registration is $25; CME credits are available as well as certification from Texas Health & Human Services. Registration is available here. The deadline to register is Friday (Oct. 8). For additional questions about the virtual event, please contact the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health at (806) 414-9941.