The first stage of needs analysis was a qualitative research project carried out in 2001 through a series of four focus groups with gay men in Geneva divided into four age categories. The goal was to get baseline information about:
· How do gay men see health?
· What specific needs did they perceive?
· What strategies did they foresee to address those needs?
To our surprise, their ideas on overall health were rather progressive: they saw health as a balance between physical and mental health. Apart from AIDS, the most pressing health problem from their perspective was self-acceptance and the area of life they found most worrying was love and relationships.
The lion’s share of discussions had to do with mental health vis-a-vis homosexuality such as self-respect, accepting one’s own homosexuality and the coming out process (starting in adolescence and as an on-going, lifelong process). With the exception of the under 25 group, everyone discussed the issues affecting young gays such as the risk of suicide and transitioning to adulthood. Participants mentioned how difficult it was to talk about being gay with their doctor as well as discrimination in health care services. A report on this activity, “First round of focus group discussions involving gay men in Geneva on health, needs and strategies” (“Primer tour de discussions en groupes-focus des hommes gais de Genève en matière de santé, de besoins et de stratégies”) is available in the archives.