The health care center Checkpoint was developed to respond to the request by gay men to be cared for by gay and gay-friendly health care providers and to counter the serious shortcomings in HIV-screening and counseling as revealed in the baseline gay health project survey and other research in Switzerland.
Based on the experience of Checkpoint Amsterdam, Checkpoint Geneva was the first voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) center specifically for gay men in Switzerland. It opened at the beginning of 2005 by proposing HIV screening with a rapid result test and treatment for other sexually-transmitted infections (STI) and vaccines for Hepatitis A and B. Checkpoint Geneva was an immediate success and multiple Checkpoints were opened in other Swiss and European cities in the following years.
Innovative tools and procedures were used for this pilot project such as the anonymous self-administered questionnaire completed by the user before seeing a health care provider. This questionnaire was a model for creating the national BerDA questionnaire used today in most HIV screening centers and all of the Checkpoints in Switzerland.
In March 2006, a meeting of European VCT centers was organized in Geneva to share experiences and best practices and to present the first assessments of Checkpoint Geneva. Among the participants were: Checkpoint Amsterdam (which no longer exists), the Terrence Higgins Trust Fastest project and the Social and Preventative Medicine Institutes at the Universities of Lausanne and Zurich.
In 2008, when the Blues-out project was launched, two questions for depression screening were added to the self-administered questionnaire in order to be able to talk about it in HIV screening tests and guide users to a mental health professional if necessary. Data collected on depression in the Checkpoint questionnaire confirmed the high prevalence of this disorder in the gay community and led Dialogai to envisage Checkpoint becoming a real community health center in the future.
In 2015, Checkpoint Geneva was certified as a medical center by the Geneva Cantonal health authorities and opened a mental health service run by a psychiatrist with a team of psychologists (a delegated psychotherapy system). 2 medical students did a study on substance usage among those who patronize the center.
Since 2017, upon hiring its first general practitioner, Checkpoint was finally in a position to address all of the health problems facing gay and bisexual men.
Statistical Data and Analysis
The number of consultations was 314 out of 400 consultation slots in 2005, opening year. In 2016, it was 1,160 sexual health consultations and 583 mental health consultations. While sexual health consultations have remained stable for years, mental health consultations which begun in 2015 have soarkyrocketed inover just aone year (55 in 2015, 583 in 2016).
The 2007 and 2011 gay heath project surveys asked participants if they were aware of Checkpoint as well as about its quality. In 2007, approximately 18 months after opening, more than 18% of gay men had already had a consultation in Checkpoint and around 60% had heard of it. By 2011, 25% of gay men had visited Checkpoint and around 80% had become aware of it. These high numbers show the good, grassroots communication work done by Dialogai and the positive effect of word of mouth in the community.
The quality of the Checkpoint Service is considered higher than other equivalent HIV and IST screening services. The fact that 15% of gay men in 2011, 6 years after the service was opened, had never used another screening service is remarkable.
The aspects that users appreciated most are the gay and gay-friendly staff, the reception, the professional service, the speed of the screening tests and the kind staff.
This kind of satisfaction survey is vital for the future development of Checkpoint and should be conducted regularly. Checkpoint is for gay and bisexual men, and so we must regularly ask them to understand their needs, get their feedback and proposals to improve service.