Hospitals Gear Up For New Diagnosis: Human Trafficking

By Michelle Andrews
Kaiser Health News
July 24, 2018

There are no hard figures for how many people are involved in human trafficking, the term used when individuals are forced to work or have sex for someone else’s commercial benefit. Polaris, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for these people and runs helplines for them, said calls and texts to its national hotlines have steadily ticked up in recent years, increasing the number of cases 13 percent between 2016 and 2017, to 8,759.

But health care providers frequently fail to recognize these patients’ situation. According to a 2014 survey of about 100 survivors of sex trafficking, 88 percent said that while they were being trafficked they had contact with a healthcare provider, typically someone in an emergency department.

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