Explain what the "innovation" is about, e.g., is it the idea and/or the model you use to accomplish the idea, or your understanding of the target population, etc.?
Ath Checkpoint is a community based center for voluntary testing and counseling for HIV. Even though it is based on a model established in other european areas, it is an innovative venture in a national level. The profile of Ath Checkpoint is a groundbreaking project in many levels: it addresses issues of smooth access to HIV testing and counseling for targeted key populations. Making such an important service accessible to men who have sex with men is mainly catered by our networking, roots and deep understanding of the needs of that group. Building that structure we cooperated actively with all organisations, groups and prominent activists and professionals from the local LGBT scene. After half a year of operating in Athens, the response to our services have got very positive reviews and we are gradually being established as a complete one-stop structure for HIV health for men who have sex with men
Describe how your innovation model is distinct from any other organization in your field?
Ath Checkpoint was created on the grounds of lacking of HIV test and counseling services, that are convenient and accessible to people that have tight schedules and feel unwelcome to traditional environments and structures for HIV testing. State structures not only they are addressed to the general public, they also are problematic providing accessible services. There are also some other private initiatives addressed to other key populations like intravenous drug users and migrants. Ath Checkpoint is the first structure that offers services designed according to the needs of modern men who have sex with men
What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?
The base of our organizational model is peer-to-peer services with the technical support of the main HIV policy maker in Greece (KEELPNO). Staff is consisted of people from the LGBT community with an activist and/or professional record in the field. Added to this factor, we have designed and customize services adapted to the lifestyle and needs of men who have sex with men of any background. We provide friendly services of testing and counseling, adhering to a model that is: quick, easily accessible, targeted, painless, free of charge, with convenient operating hours. Such innovations are becoming more and more appealing to the LGBT community and men who have sex with men
How do you make sure you constantly innovate in light of (potential) external challenges, or your growth plan?
The challenges in the area of HIV prevention are always on the rise in Greece on the background of the socioeconomic crisis. Traditional structures collapse and we try to cover the needs of this key population. We try to introduce multiple methods of testing (saliva and blood antibodies tests), and we plan to expand our services to full sexual health prevention services, introducing testing for more sexually transmitted infections (hepatitis, syphilis etc.). It is also our aim to inaugurate a second prevention unit to the second largest city of Greece, Thessaloniki. As we hope that we will continue to grow, we plan to open our services to more key populations, targeting to each group's special needs