MGH Freedom Clinic est. 2015

Human trafficking is a global issue of grave public health concern. An estimated 20.9 million persons worldwide are trapped in forced labor and sexual exploitation (ILO, 2012), however the exact prevalence of human trafficking is unknown. In the United States, cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 states and make reference to both citizens and foreign nationals. Trafficked persons experience numerous negative health outcomes, including but not limited to violence-related injuries, occupational injuries, sexually transmitted infections and diseases (including HIV), unplanned pregnancy, malnutrition, substance use disorders, psychological trauma and neglect of chronic medical conditions. Up to 87.8% of human trafficking survivors in the US report being evaluated in a healthcare facility at least once while trafficked (Lederer & Wetzel, 2014). Health care providers are uniquely positioned to prevent trafficking as well as identify and respond to trafficked persons in the health care setting.

The Human Trafficking Initiative (HTI) was launched in 2008 to frame human trafficking as a public health issue and advance anti-trafficking efforts in research, education, policy, and clinical care within the health sector. In 2008 – 2010, HTI completed 9 social-science research case studies on human trafficking in the U.S., U.K., Brazil, and the Philippines. Our research examined local public health responses to sex trafficking of women and girls, in order to understand the health sector’s role in mitigating the health effects of trafficking. HTI has built on its research by developing an evidence-based training on human trafficking for multidisciplinary healthcare audiences with the goal of heightening awareness, improving victim identification, and developing trauma informed responses that address the complex health and social needs of trafficked persons. In addition to this work, HTI has engaged in advocacy for the development and implementation of evidence-based policies to safely and effectively assist survivors of trafficking. The initiative's newest efforts have focused on providing comprehensive, trauma-informed, and survivor-centered care for victims and survivors of human trafficking referred to the MGH Freedom Clinic.

Our four major areas of activity:

1. Research

  • Elucidate the epidemiology and pathology of human trafficking in the US
  • Examine the health sector response to the needs of trafficked persons
  • Understand the health sector’s role in mitigating human trafficking
  • Identify opportunities for more effective approaches to assisting trafficked persons in the health care setting

2. Policy Advocacy

  • Inform policy through research
  • Represent the health sector in agencies and policy groups at the federal and state levels
  • Build a network of health care providers to serve as advocates for trafficked persons

3. Education and Training

  • Develop evidence-based resources on human trafficking for health care providers
  • Train health care providers in trauma-informed, survivor-centered approaches to care
  • Provide in-person trainings, live/recorded webinars, and online courses for health care professionals

4. Clinical Care (Mass General Freedom Clinic)

  • Provide free comprehensive primary and preventive care for victims and survivors of human trafficking in the Greater Boston area and beyond
  • Assess and address medical, mental health, and social needs via case management
  • Refer as needed to medical subspecialty care and community-based legal/social services
  • Include survivors on the clinic's advisory board

Human Trafficking Resources

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center
Webinar on Recognizing and Responding to Human Trafficking in a Healthcare Context
Catholic Health Initiative in collaboration with MGH Human Trafficking Initiative
Addressing Human Trafficking in the Health Care Setting
Human Trafficking Guidebook co-published with the Massachusetts Medical Society



 Click here to download

For more information about the Human Trafficking Initative's educational offerings and requests for speaking engagements, please contact:
Wendy Macias-Konstantopoulos, MD, MPH
Director, MGH Human Trafficking Initiative
Chief Executive/Medical Director, MGH Freedom Clinic
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Tel: (617) 643 - 4294


We would like to acknowledge our funder,Give Way to Freedom, for helping us make this all possible!


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