On 5th March, 2015 Checkpoint – the first place offering consultations and testing in Latvia for men having sexual relationship with other men, celebrates its first year of foundation. The aim of the Checkpoint is to increase the number of men who regularly undergo medical examinations and start immediate treatment, if necessary, thus reducing the number of undiscovered or late detected cases of disease.
According to The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDPC), in Latvia HIV spreads primarily through sexual contacts thus infecting 67% of all discovered HIV cases in 2014, and 12% of them were homosexual and bisexual men. During the first year of operation Checkpoint gathered a lot of volunteers to attract men’s attention to HIV and other infectious diseases spreading sexually.
„Due to the fact that we were first ones in founding such a checkpoint in Latvia, this was a challenging year for us. We have established very good cooperation with association “Mozaīka”, as well as with clubs “Golden” and “XXL” where we offer our services for several times in month. With the help of our Norwegian friends – we are able to maintain our webpage. On behalf of all members of the project, I would like to thank to all the people who are involved and actively helps us! Also, I would like to thank to all the men who took the tests – our hearts and minds can be calm if we are aware of our HIV status”, says Inga Bulmistre, Manager of the Checkpoint.
More than 180 tests have been carried out during the first year of operation, mostly by men aged 18 to 65, in a few cases – also by women. 39% of male carried out HIV tests for the first time in their lives. Approximately 7% of all examinations where carried out by foreign citizens who visited Latvia and appreciated Checkpoint services. Cooperation with clubs “Golden” and “XXL” has been very successful – more than half of all tests were carried out there.
Together with testing, Checkpoint provides information and professional advice on diseases and their prevention. In case of positive result of the test doctors and medical institutions are recommended to initiate early treatment.
“Baltic HIV Association, which is the project developer and author, has created a supportive network of doctors, offering nearly 20 different doctors – specialists in Riga and its district. Currently Checkpint professionals can advise men-friendly family doctors, addiction specialists, dermatologists and infectologists – hepatologists. We are happy to receive very positive feedback from the beneficiaries on the Checkpoint and doctors’ services, so we feel – our work should be continued and extensible, “says the project manager Inga Upmace.
Checkpoint offers easy accessible, fast, anonymous and free of charge HIV and syphilis express testing.
The Checkpoint is opened within the project “Promoting social inclusion of men who have sex with men (MSM) by improving access and quality of health care services”.
The project is being implemented within the framework of the EEA Financial Mechanism for 2009 – 2014 Grants programmes “NGO Fund” sub-programme “NGO Project Measure”. The Project is supervised by the Social Integration Fund and it is co-financed by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.Testpunkta services are available every Tuesday and Wednesday from at. 18:00 to 8:30 p.m., the association “Mosaic” office in Riga, Stabu 19 Several times a month Testpunkta services are also available in the club “Golden” and “XXL”.
For more details on Checkpoint: www.testpunkts.lv