Athens Checkpoint

Athens Checkpoint

HIV Prevention and Testing Centre

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Last Update: May 19, 2014

The Ath Checkpoint is a centrally situated, community-based HIV testing and prevention facility for gay men. We offer peer counseling, rapid test and linkage to health care services. We promote sex risk minimization and contribute to early HIV diagnosis and reduction of new infections

Founded: 2012 Type: citizen sector

The Problem

An estimated 30% of people infected with HIV in Greece remain undiagnosed. Late HIV diagnoses and unsafe sex practices contribute to ongoing HIV infections. While the most at risk population in Athens is Men who have Sex with Men, the information needs of this group are not adequately addressed and Health Services are often not able to provide sensitive and candid safer sex information. Moreover there is no routine testing in the community.

The Solution

Routine HIV testing must become part of the pursuit of sexual well being and pleasure. It must not be a traumatic or time consuming experience and should be an opportunity to learn and adopt safer sex practices. The Ath Checkpoint has created a reputation in the gay community for the friendly environment, the accurate information and the convenient hours of operation and location. The Ath Checkpoint has distributed in its first year of operation more than a 1 million condoms and informative material to clubs, bars, festivals and popular to the young people destinations like Gazi. We also contribute articles in all gay or gay friendly newsletters and we are present on internet dating sites answering question on safer sex

Example

You work at 9 to 5 job and want to get tested. There is no free service that operates after 5.00 or on Saturday. You are a gay man and wish to ask candid questions about your sexual sex practices and sexually trasmitted infections which you are not at ease to discuss with nurses. You go to any gay bar or event and you meet cute and gregarious volunteers of the Ath Checkpoint who offer condoms for free and remind you by their presence that HIV remains a threat that requires smart choices. You open all gay free press and you see advertisements promoting testing and safer sex. Finally for those testing positive, we have had a lot of people complaining of very traumatic experience when they got the results

Impact

Statistics up to date (18 months of operation): Total people tested for HIV: 5.090 Total negative results: 4934 = 96,94% Total positive results: 156 = 3,06% Percentage (%) of HIV+ people linked to further health care services: 89%. Condoms distributed: 1 million, Streetwork number of nights: 106, People approached in streetwork: 4.500, Targeted Testing Campaign Flyers: 20.000, Presence in 15 parties in clubs, Future impact is concerned: Athens Checkpoint conducted 2600 test in 2013. Our target for 2014 is 3500. We have also started conducting on a weekly and monthly basis tests in municipal health centres. We have opened in March 2014 the Thessaloniki Checkpoint and we have instituted a regular bi monthly presence in major cities of Greece. We have also submitted a funding request to buy a mobile unit which will allow us even further testing outreach.

Full Impact Potential

The Checkpoints and the visits to other cities will significantly reduce the % of gay man who never got tested (30% in Athens, 40% in Thessaloniki, 50% to rest of Greece). It will decrease the number of undiagnosed in the gay population (estimated at 2.000). We expect to diagnose ⅓ of the gay cases in Greece in 2014 and we shall reduce late diagnoses caused by the reluctance to visit or inability to pay for the public health services which are no longer free. The Ath Checkpoint will change the attitudes on testing and will reduce the ignorance around HIV and thus Stigma and Discrimination

Budget: $100,000 - $250,000

Financial Sources

Foundations, Businesses

Sustainability Plan

The Checkpoint is supported by a foundation from LA and local Pharma industry. We have been able to scale up through economies of scale and optimisation of our operation. The success and recognition attracts many volunteers which further bring cost down. We shall present to the government the results of the first 2 years of operation and data of its cost effectiveness are we are confident it will secure yearly state contribution.

Marketplace

HIV testing is offered in the Healthcare setting in Public Hospitals and in privately owned diagnostic centres. At the Community level one more organisation has been offering testing through their clinic and a mobile unit in areas targeting migrants, homeless, sex workers etc. Our main difference with the public and the private sector is a) peer non-judgemental counselling, b) rapid test that gives result in 5 minutes, c) convenient schedule from 12.00 to 20.00 and Saturday, d) friendly inviroment, e) constant presence in the gay life of the city, f) presence in social dating sites

Founding Story

There were many “oh my god..” moments back in 2011. For example a public clinic called us to “correct” the information we had on our web site of where people could can get tested for free. In the period of the crisis HIV testing seemed to no longer be available for free. Newspaper reports confirmed cases of people who had tested positive on the first test and could not have the confirmatory test for more than a month. A state of affairs that resembles torture. People gave us funny and tragic stories of encounters in the public sector. A doctor giving a positive result in 2010 said to the person to not worry since he would live more than 10 years. Gay man were advised to stop anal sex. The incredulous list can not be served by 750 characters

Team Explanation

The Ath Checkpoint has 6 part time employees and 1 full time which serves as the coordinator. All employees offer counseling and testing. Further responsibilities are divided and include: outreach volunteers coordination, promotion and communication and fundraising. Ath Checkpoint also relies on a large pool of volunteers that participate in the packaging of condoms and informative material as well as its distribution to all gay related events

Team Members

Connections:

Challenges

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