The raTrust was founded after a close friend of mind died of AIDS, after contracting HIV while working as a sex worker. To say that this hit me hard is an understatement. But my friend made me promise that I would work to make sure that no one else suffered the same fate.
From that day my focus has been on forming what is now the raTrust and working to save lives.
The raTrust is dedicated to working with those most at risk of contracting HIV. This means we work, non-judgmentally, with some of the estimated 120,000 sex workers across the UK. We provide them with condoms, give them advice about sexual health and point them in the direction of clinics and services that can help them and provide them with free HIV testing. We also give specialist advice to those who are HIV-positive or those who believe that they may be.
The raTrust is working to make home testing available too, with our HIV home test kit. We realise that sex workers often live chaotic lives that don’t always work with appointment systems, so this flexible approach can work far better for them and provide a clear diagnosis. We can also offer counselling services where needed.
When we have been talking with sex workers we have been both saddened and surprised to hear stories of customers asking to pay for sex without a condom. Often, customers will offer to pay extra for this, but we are clear that for sex workers to even do this once is to potentially sign their own death warrant.
STIs and HIV are a very real risk for any sex workers (or indeed anyone) who has sex without a condom, especially with a stranger whose sexual history is a complete mystery. But condoms can be expensive, with the extra for protection-free sex being too much to resist for some sex workers who need to eat or to buy drugs to support an addiction.
Whatever he’s offering, the price is too high!
Dominika Rejmer – Director and founder, The raTrust.