Great discussion about the early days of HIV

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 17, 2012 12:26 AM GMT
    Last night I came across this reddit post and couldn't stop reading it - very powerful and moving stories. I'm sure there's similar stories on here, but just thought I'd share this too, especially for those in my generation and younger who don't have much or any memory of HIV as a death sentence.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/w5x9w/gay_men_who_were_adults_in_the_early_80s_what_did/
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    Aug 17, 2012 12:55 AM GMT
    some of these stories are heart breaking, i'm having a difficult time not weeping. icon_neutral.gif
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    Aug 17, 2012 1:07 AM GMT
    I lost my two best friends in Vancouver back then as well as quite a few of the gang who all used to hang around together. We weren't that old then in our early to late 20's It's kind of weird but sometimes when I look in the mirror and the lines in my face, my graying hair etc and how old I look now I think about them, like how old they'd be now and what they'd maybe look like today had they lived. It seems like so long ago
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    Aug 17, 2012 1:21 AM GMT
    OP..How cool of you !
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    Aug 17, 2012 2:42 AM GMT
    I worked as an orderly at a small rural Arizona hospital back in the mid-80s. We admitted a young 20+ male one evening with what I think was a diagnosis of failure to thrive and pneumonia. As I recall, the term “AIDS” was fairly new. People still referred to the illness as Grid and Rock Hudson Disease. I don’t recall receiving much guidance on how to care for the patient. All that the nurse’s would tell us was that his infection was in his blood and body fluids. This was during the days before the internet. Many of us obtained our information from the 5 o’clock News.

    The healthcare workers pretty much did their own thing as far as protecting themselves from the patient. Some dressed up in biohazard suits just to perform simple duties like obtaining a urine sample or dumping a bedside commode. I was assigned to care for him a few nights before he died. I was absolutely terrified. I was instructed by the nurse to feed him with eye protection, gloves, and a mask on. I comb his hair and tried my best to make him comfortable. He did have the classic purple spots (Kaposi’s sarcoma) on his trunk and legs. He was extremely emaciated and in a lot of pain. He died a few days later.

    These memories still bother me.
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    Aug 17, 2012 6:04 AM GMT
    Stills from Making Love, 1982.

    64retro24.jpg

    AIDS Nensha.
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    Aug 17, 2012 6:13 AM GMT
    I have been doing my own indecent research on aids. I first heard about aids a few years ago because in my science class we watched the movie "the band plays on"

    That movie really opened my eyes to stds and aids. Since being a gay male myself, I have been reading articles about the aids epidemic back then and other stds and it breaks my heart to hear about the panic back then. I cannot begin to imagine the fear and heartbreak people had to suffer.

    It also annoys me to see people my age who go out and have unprotected sex and not care.

    I made a thread a few months ago to those on here with HIV
    http://www.realjock.com/gayforums/2443626/
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    Aug 17, 2012 2:21 PM GMT

    Jack, your take on this is USA-centric. AIDS happened all over the western world. It wasn't due to some gay political figures making people be reckless. The sexual revolution is older than that.

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    Aug 17, 2012 2:34 PM GMT
    Now that jack blair has posted obnoxious religious/right wing anti gay crap in this wonderful thread................. its time for everyone to ignore this cancerous poster.

    OP, thank you for posting this and those other posters here that have an interest in what happened years ago. Those that dont learn from history are doomed to repeat it. lets HOPE not!
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    Aug 17, 2012 2:36 PM GMT
    is there much difference between now and then? aren't new treatments that curtail death proving to provide new sense of invincibility to those who desire to be promiscuous once again? as though this is some sort of gay badge...
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    Aug 17, 2012 2:42 PM GMT
    i never knew anybody that had aids that i was aware of, until one day i met someone with aids, it was me.
  • CuriousJockAZ

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    Aug 17, 2012 2:48 PM GMT
    I'm not sure if I can even read the stories because my own vivid memories from that horrible time are still permanently seared into my mind. AIDS came onto the scene and public consciousness the same year that I moved to Los Angeles and was coming to terms with my own sexuality. At the time, I had very minimal experience with sex of any kind with men. The whole hysteria at the time had me scared to even so much as kiss a guy. It was a horribly scary and confusing time for me, and the labeling of AIDS as "The Gay Plague" was something that made my own coming out experience all the more frightening, confusing, and guilt-ridden. Shortly after moving to L.A. and meeting my first group of friends, I was invited to a party, which ended up being a gay party, and one of the people there was actor Rock Hudson. To me, my memory of Rock Hudson from my childhood was from the movie "GIANT" and all the Doris Day movies in which he was, in my eyes, one of the most beautiful men I had ever laid eyes on. When someone pointed out Rock Hudson at this party, I will never forget that moment as long as I live. Sitting in the corner was this frail, emaciated, barely recognizable image of who at one time was one of the biggest heartthrobs in Hollywood. The image shocked me to my very core. It was my very first face-to-face confrontation with the cold, hard horrifying ravages of this still mysterious disease. In the years that followed, I made many friends and watched many of them die a slow and excruciatingly painful death. These images will forever haunt me. I have no doubt that the timing of my own "coming out" phase, coinciding with the AIDS crisis at that time, have had a lasting and profound effect on my own psyche.
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    Aug 17, 2012 2:59 PM GMT
    JackBlair69 said

    [More mindless, drool-soaked drivel from the bowels of new jersey.]


    why do you bother getting up in the morning?



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    Aug 17, 2012 3:02 PM GMT
    MadeNUSA saidis there much difference between now and then? aren't new treatments that curtail death proving to provide new sense of invincibility to those who desire to be promiscuous once again? as though this is some sort of gay badge...


    200 people in dallas have been infected with the West Nile Virus.

    Was their promiscuity with mosquitos to blame????

    It is a virus.

    Keep yer holier-than-thou judgements to yerself.

    At least that way we know they will remain isolated and alone...

    icon_neutral.gificon_neutral.gificon_neutral.gif
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    Aug 17, 2012 3:09 PM GMT
    Cash said
    JackBlair69 said

    [More mindless, drool-soaked drivel from the bowels of new jersey.]


    why do you bother getting up in the morning?





    Good question. Based on the totality of his political posts and his HIV drivel, I doubt seriously that "he" is actually a gay man in real life.

    Anyway, I lost quite a few guys who were very important to me, both friends and lovers. I still feel like I dodged a bullet - I had college friends who would go down to NYC to go to sex clubs/bars and I was generally to unsure of myself to go with them. I survived, most of them didn't. It's interesting, I'm 51, JP/Crankodor is 55, which doesn't sound like a big difference but HIV put a real generational divide between us. His generation, the generation just barely older than mine, was in the height of its sexual prime at the end of the "sexual revolution" when the epidemic was spreading, unknown. My generation was more mixed - for those who came out later, the dangers were known - for those who came out earlier but were more cautious in our early years for various reasons, we were more likely to have a good result in the lottery.

    My partner and I have always felt like we were figuring out this long term gay relationship thing sort of alone with other friends around the same age. Not to say that there aren't some older guys in LTRs, but that generation grew up in the midst of the sexual revolution before LTRs were as valued, and then then was decimated by HIV. So we just never met many couples to serve as role models. Our generation was really pushed toward LTRs by the epidemic and we were at the forefront of the coupling trend - which has in turn led to the SSM push. HIV has affected our lives and culture in so many ways.

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    Aug 17, 2012 3:30 PM GMT
    thanks jackblair for posting that diatribe against sexual liberation; a socio-political dynamic which was not limited to the gay community, i might add [emphasis mine]. the fact of the matter is that no one can reduce epidemiological disease transmission to merely political or social factors. this PANdemic is a global one, not limited to 3 American cities. HIV's "success" in terms of virus propagation is through the very bases of human nature - our reproductive system; not just the sexual reproductive system, but the genetic reproductive system. so lets leave all this political conjecture of blame in the past, where it belongs.

    the purpose of the reddit thread is, in part, to document and acknowledge the cycle of fear, confusion, panic, and stigma around the early days of HIV/AIDS when little was known. people were ostracised, they were left out to die, they were not cared for, they were sacrificed and blamed by the very people who had participated with them, and/or those who were in charge of their care. if we've learned anything, its that a cycle of fear is self-affirming and repetitive, and is responsible for the stigma that still pervades our communities around HIV. and this will take several more generations for it to dissipate.

    reviving blame and sexual repression is not the answer to the problem. in fact, it is this kind of witch-hunt which escalates the problem by creating misinformation rather than education, identifies false scape goats rather than encouraging collective responsibility, and reinforces sex-negative attitudes which drives risky practices underground instead of encouraging sex-positive attitudes which take proactive approaches to address the realities of human sexuality and reduce risk. [emphasis mine]

    like it or not, the present day 30year pandemic is something which affects everyone. blame is not the answer. solidarity is. much work has been done and remains to be done with HIV. this involves social work, political work, economic reform, medical care, and more over it requires community response. HIV is one of the most researched diseases on the planet, and we have come a long way in terms of knowing it, teaching people about it, treating it, and changing what used to be certain death into a manageable chronic disease. yes, while it is no longer a death sentence (in places where treatment is accessible), it still remains a life sentence (and one with necessary commitments to medical care, drugs, health maintenance and laboratory monitoring).

    thanks to mzkyte for posting the reddit thread. it is a sample of the horrors that pervaded in the early days of the AIDS crisis, and we should all feel lucky to be here. next time you meet an HIV+ person or an AIDS service organisation, an HIV care practitioner, a community volunteer, or a business which is actively speaking about HIV and promoting healthy sexuality, you should pay your respect.
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    Aug 17, 2012 3:56 PM GMT
    Ugh. Reading that reddit thread has given me a stomach ache. I still have a hard time watching movies, reading this stuff, etc. I watched the HBO documentary Vito a few weeks ago and basically cried the entire last half an hour. Even though I was much younger, I vividly remember a lot of the early years of 4H, GRID, etc, because my uncle came out in 81 and though only 7 I was a smart kid who liked Time magazine and newspapers, lol.
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    Aug 17, 2012 4:04 PM GMT
    Cash said
    MadeNUSA saidis there much difference between now and then? aren't new treatments that curtail death proving to provide new sense of invincibility to those who desire to be promiscuous once again? as though this is some sort of gay badge...


    200 people in dallas have been infected with the West Nile Virus.

    Was their promiscuity with mosquitos to blame????

    It is a virus.

    Keep yer holier-than-thou judgements to yerself.

    At least that way we know they will remain isolated and alone...

    icon_neutral.gificon_neutral.gificon_neutral.gif


    are you normally this stupid or are you just having a one off?

    my holier than though attitude is what have allowed me to be perfectly healthy while burying over 15 of my very close friends.
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    Aug 17, 2012 4:06 PM GMT
    MadeNUSA saidmy holier than though attitude is what have allowed me to be perfectly healthy while burying over 15 of my very close friends.


    No, your being safe and taking care of yourself physically is what has allowed you to remain uninfected. Were you to become infected today with current meds you most likely would eventually die of something else, not be buried as a result of HIV.

    Your holier than thou attitude stands on its own.
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    Aug 17, 2012 4:12 PM GMT
    I started reading it but I couldn't finish it.

    I was in Dallas at the time.

    Gay men my age, that were having sex when HIV first hit the scene, are so few in numbers compared to other ages.

    I belonged to two social groups of about 30 people each. Today, only 3 of us are alive.

    Someone wrote about the heartbreak fear that we must have been feeling at the time. I think most men my age were feeling much more heartbreak than fear. The heartbreak just outweighed everything else. I remember having a long discussion with my mother and I got angry and told her not to say anything until she was faced with losing friends faster than she could make new ones.

    We were alone. Politicians were ignoring it and wouldn't even mention it. Most of the medical community, we felt, turned their backs on us. It was the gay community coming together that started saving lives with safer sex programs. We banded together to provide care in one's last days through buddy programs which were a vital part of the community in those days. We sat at their bedsides, in their homes holding their hands as they slipped away, time after time after time.... when nurses would don so much crap they looked liked martians coming in to take vitals.

    Yes, it was heartbreaking and I can't stop the tears now as I try to write this. An entire generation was decimated, wiped out, lost. Those of us that survived it, would be scarred for life and it would change our lives more profoundly than anyone can imagine. I pray today's young gays will never have to endure anything like we did.

    When you attended so many funerals and watched so many friends succumb, you can't help but think about it and them on a regular basis. It changes who you are as a survivor.

    I often read that gay men would die within months of the first symptoms. That is pure bullshit. In the beginning, it was more often just a couple weeks. So many times, someone would get a cough. Within a few days he would be rushed to the ER. Many times, they never came back home and were dead within 2 to 3 weeks.

    It was heartbreaking to say the least. .... and it is still heartbreaking today. Maybe this is why those of my age are so upset by the young men today that want to go bareback. They have no clue what we endured or fought for. They have no clue how we had to fight just to keep going and provide for our own...

    When people today play bareback, it's like a slap in the face to those of my age that were there, and were out, when this happened.
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    Aug 17, 2012 4:15 PM GMT
    I know I wasn't around during the early days of HIV, but my boyfriend was and I can't begin to imagine the pain and suffering he and others had to go through.

    It may not mean much but I have a huge respect for the older generation, and I think it's important for people around my age to understand what happened in the past so it doesn't go un-noticed. Being aware of HIV and other STD's is very important... especially today.
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    Aug 17, 2012 4:16 PM GMT
    El_Crankodor saidI turned 18 in 1975, although I'd been sexually active since I was 16 in 1973. I expect the reason I survived it is because I never bottomed during those years (and only infrequently since). It is much more difficult for a top to contract it (though hardly impossible).

    I've never added up the number of dead friends from those years, but I'd guess the number to be between 60 and 70.

    A large part of the reason so many men my age are single is that our generation of potential partners was largely wiped out.


    This made me a little teary eyed. I can't imagine how hard it was to be a gay man during that time and loosing all those friends. I am so sorry for all your loss. So much my generation seems to take for granted.
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    Aug 17, 2012 4:19 PM GMT
    SleepyFisherman saidI worked as an orderly at a small rural Arizona hospital back in the mid-80s. We admitted a young 20+ male one evening with what I think was a diagnosis of failure to thrive and pneumonia. As I recall, the term “AIDS” was fairly new. People still referred to the illness as Grid and Rock Hudson Disease. I don’t recall receiving much guidance on how to care for the patient. All that the nurse’s would tell us was that his infection was in his blood and body fluids. This was during the days before the internet. Many of us obtained our information from the 5 o’clock News.

    The healthcare workers pretty much did their own thing as far as protecting themselves from the patient. Some dressed up in biohazard suits just to perform simple duties like obtaining a urine sample or dumping a bedside commode. I was assigned to care for him a few nights before he died. I was absolutely terrified. I was instructed by the nurse to feed him with eye protection, gloves, and a mask on. I comb his hair and tried my best to make him comfortable. He did have the classic purple spots (Kaposi’s sarcoma) on his trunk and legs. He was extremely emaciated and in a lot of pain. He died a few days later.

    These memories still bother me.


    A memory like that would haunt me too. I bet it had a profound impact on your life since. I see patients all the time who impact me all the time as well.
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    Aug 17, 2012 4:19 PM GMT
    showme said
    MadeNUSA saidmy holier than though attitude is what have allowed me to be perfectly healthy while burying over 15 of my very close friends.


    No, your being safe and taking care of yourself physically is what has allowed you to remain uninfected. Were you to become infected today with current meds you most likely would eventually die of something else, not be buried as a result of HIV.

    Your holier than thou attitude stands on its own.


    if you and others choose to fuck yourself into the abyss - bully for you. have at it. you want to defend promoscuity/hookup sessions. go right ahead. it is disgustingly sad way to live. at the end of the day no skin off my teeth.
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    Aug 17, 2012 4:21 PM GMT
    MadeNUSA said
    Cash said
    MadeNUSA saidis there much difference between now and then? aren't new treatments that curtail death proving to provide new sense of invincibility to those who desire to be promiscuous once again? as though this is some sort of gay badge...


    200 people in dallas have been infected with the West Nile Virus.

    Was their promiscuity with mosquitos to blame????

    It is a virus.

    Keep yer holier-than-thou judgements to yerself.

    At least that way we know they will remain isolated and alone...

    icon_neutral.gificon_neutral.gificon_neutral.gif


    are you normally this stupid or are you just having a one off?

    my holier than though attitude is what have allowed me to be perfectly healthy while burying over 15 of my very close friends.


    My first "Husband" was one of the first diagnosed.

    He told Me on our first date.

    I told Him then - I wouldn't live in fear but I wouldn't put Myself at risk.

    I came out at 15. In 1983 - when it WASN'T so laid back and chill.

    I worked in Theatre in those days.

    My first Husband...and EVERYONE I KNEW IN MY TEENS AND EARLY 20's died.

    I just turned 44 and remain hiv negative.

    DON'T fuck with Me dude.

    Yer an amateur at best.

    and a sorta stupid one.