The earliest record of HIV-1 infection dates back to 1959 to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, however formal tracking of HIV/AIDS in the USA began in 1982 when US scientists started to use term "acquired immunodeficiency syndrome” to describe a series of opportunistic infections. As of 2016, according to The World Health Organisation, between 30.8 and 42.9 million people around the globe are infected with HIV, with Sub-Saharan Africa being the most severely impacted by the virus and accounting for nearly two-thirds of the people living with HIV worldwide.
In 2016 in the United Kingdom 417,584 people were diagnosed with some sort of sexually transmitted infection. Despite the fact that 2016 saw a 4 per cent decrease in the number of positive diagnoses, promotion of sexual health and HIV/AIDS prevention are major issues concerning The National Health Service, public service organisations and multiple charities across the country. Did you know that there are approximately 134,000 HIV-positive people in the UK alone? The stigma surrounding HIV and other sexually transmitted infections leads to discrimination, marginalisation, harassment and violence. It is calculated that 12 per cent of people living with HIV have been denied adequate medical treatment because of the fear and misconceptions that arose around the disease.
RaTrust is a charitable organisation set up by Dominika Rejmer in memory of a close friend who contracted HIV working in sex trade and died of AIDS in 2008. 10 years later, raTrust promotes safe sex practices and educates communities about sexually transmitted infections. The aim of the organisation is to end the disinformation and eradicate stigma surrounding HIV and STIs once and for all. Ultimately, raTrust plans to lower STI and HIV infection rates across the country through equal access to knowledge, contraception and adequate health services.
Together with its volunteers the organisation works with vulnerable social groups, such as sex workers and underprivileged communities and promotes respectful approach towards sexual relations, sexuality and sexual health. Lack of knowledge about safe sex, especially among young people, reckless sexual behaviours and often inadequate personal hygiene lead to the spread of STIs. In 2016 most common sexually transmitted infections were chlamydia, genital warts, and gonorrhoea. Through raTrust's website everyone can order self-test kits for detecting sexually transmitted infections and HIV. The service is discreet and guarantees maximum confidentiality, as the results are delivered via secure platform or mail.
RaTrust believes that the number of positive diagnoses can be significantly lowered through comprehensive knowledge and education. That's why, the charity organises promotional activities across the UK, engages in social and printed media campaigns, and initiates interactive workshops to raise awareness about sexually transmitted infections. In their office at Old Gloucester Street in London or at any convenient location raTrust offers safe, judgement-free environment for face-to-face counselling and practical help sessions for everyone in need of help, advice or simple humanitarian support. On raTrust's website you can learn about sexual health, contraception, as well as penis and vaginal health. You can read about HIV prevention, transmission, Post-Exposure Prophylaxis and get to know current and historic HIV statistics. There is also a link to the blog of the organisation which outlines campaigns and promotional activities carried out by the charity.