Programming Connection


Asian Society for the Intervention of AIDS (ASIA)
Vancouver, British Columbia


In February and March 2008, an independent consultant evaluated the ORCHID project. The evaluation was based on a method called triangulation that involves compiling data from diverse sources and via multiple methods to insure a valid and comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Interview and survey questions were based on questions posed by the project coordinator and were developed in consultation with peers. Peers’ input and feedback for the survey design was a highly valuable contribution to the evaluation, as it facilitated the development of a community-relevant approach to questioning. 

The evaluation involved conducting 14 interviews (with the project coordinator, the executive director, the research coordinator, three peers, four volunteers and four key community members). The consultant also conducted 10 surveys of recipients of ORCHID services and one survey of a manager of a massage parlour in which ORCHID provided services. The results of this analysis indicated that the project is highly valued at all levels of engagement. For more information about the evaluation and the evaluation report, please contact ORCHID.

Participant perspectives

According to both the survey and interviews, women engaged in sex work experienced an improvement in their:

  • Use of condoms
  • HIV and STI transmission and prevention knowledge
  • Ability to effectively communicate with clients about safer sexual practices
  • Awareness of support and medical services, such as HIV and other STI testing
  • Sense of trust and community in an environment where being mistrustful, secretive and self-sufficient is often the norm
  • Ease in communicating with the outreach team

Outreach worker perspectives

During interviews, peer outreach workers reported experiencing:

  • A sense of giving back to their community
  • Increased ability to communicate, work in groups and manage the care of their own social and health issues
  • Attraction to the safe and supportive environment provided by the project—empowering some of the peer outreach workers to look toward moving on to another profession

During interviews, volunteer outreach workers reported:

  • Learning new interpersonal, cross-cultural communication skills
  • Gaining new experiences and knowledge, particularly from working with the peer outreach workers.
  • A decrease in assumptions and prejudices as knowledge of female sex workers is increased

In addition to the external evaluation, ORCHID assesses the needs of the women in the parlour by asking informal questions about their satisfaction with current ORCHID services and interest in future services. The team also takes note of questions asked by the women and parlour owners, which is recorded using the ORCHID Outreach Report. This information is used to inform future outreach activities and visits.

The ORCHID team asserts that, based on its experience, the program is effective, as evidenced by the following:

  • The women in the parlours continue to speak to and build relationships with the outreach teams.
  • Over time the women discuss private details of their lives with the outreach teams.
  • Women call ORCHID for services based on referrals from other sex workers.