Human trafficking is a problem affecting millions of adults and children around the world. It is a term for activities involving someone who “obtains or holds a person in compelled service” and includes forced labor, sex trafficking, bonded labor, domestic servitude, forced child labor, and child soldiers. Human trafficking has been reported in all U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
All forms of trafficking may result in significant health effects, ranging from sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies to injuries, chronic pain, sequalae from delay in care, and a wide range of psychological, psychiatric, and behavioral health problems.
Solid data are lacking about populations affected, their characteristics and special needs, and about the best methods for screening, assessing, reporting, treating, intervening, and preventing human trafficking. However, it is known that health care professionals may be one of few professions likely to interact with people who are being trafficked. Clinicians cite lack of training opportunities as one factor contributing to their perceived difficulty to screen, identify, and care for victims of trafficking.
- The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recognizes that human trafficking is a serious problem affecting vulnerable individuals across the globe and in the U.S., and acknowledges the enormous health impact it has on people who experience trafficking, their families, and communities.
- The AAFP affirms that trained health professionals – including family physicians –are uniquely positioned to identify individuals at risk, including children and youth, and may serve as key stakeholders in the identification, management, and even prevention of human trafficking.
- The AAFP supports holistic, trauma-informed, and compassionate care of people who have experienced trafficking, and urges all physicians and other health care professionals to become informed of steps they can take to help identify and care for this population.
- The AAFP encourages training programs to integrate education on human trafficking into existing curricula (such as those on intimate partner violence, and child and elder abuse) at the pre-doctoral, residency, and CME levels.
- The AAFP supports collaboration with all appropriate agencies and organizations to address human trafficking, and calls for increased funding for research on the individual and public health consequences of human trafficking.
(2016) (October 2023 COD)