The Chilling Statistics of AIDS Deaths in Gay Men Help Understand The Long-term Trauma They Endure Today

The Chilling Statistics of AIDS Deaths in Gay Men Help Understand The Long-term Trauma They Endure Today

An article by Dr Dana Rosenfeld, Director of the Keele Centre for Ageing Research reported more than 5 years ago on the affects that gay men who lived through the AIDS crisis and the trauma they endured and how it still stays with them today.

The article points out that older gay people were aged 50-70 in 1980, when HIV / AIDS emerged in the west, gay male ‘baby boomers’ (born 1946-1964) were aged 34-16 and how for them, the high number of AIDS deaths at the epidemic’s peak (1987-1996) shaped their lives, during the epidemic, throughout their life course, and into later years. 

Statistics: AIDS killed 324,029 men and women in the USA between 1987 and 1998.

AIDS deaths were highest in major cities with thriving gay communities with a far higher proportion of gay male residents than the national average. In 1990, AIDS caused 61% of all deaths of men aged 25-44 (born 1946-1965) in San Francisco, 35% in New York, 51% in Ft. Lauderdale, 32% in Boston, 33% in Washington, DC, 39% in Seattle, 34% in Dallas, 38% in Atlanta, 43% in Miami, and 25% in Portland, Oregon. Older gay men, myself included who had lost friends and / or partners during the AIDS epidemic described cities becoming virtual ghost-towns.

The AIDS epidemic’s impacts on this generation of gay men, now aged 54-72, are still being explored. High mortality within tight gay networks have inspired the term ‘multiple loss syndrome’ to capture these deaths’ psychological toll. 

Dr Rosenfled also found that ‘nearly all older gay men alive today, regardless of their HIV status or when they come out, have been impacted in some way’ by HIV / AIDS. Many of these men were (and continue to be) AIDS activists and / or carers, and have played, and continue to play, a central role in the LGBT community’s history.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, 79.3 million [55.9–110 million] people have been infected with the HIV virus and 36.3 million [27.2–47.8 million] people have died of HIV. Globally, 37.7 million [30.2–45.1 million] people were living with HIV at the end of 2020.

It’s still not over.

3 thoughts on “The Chilling Statistics of AIDS Deaths in Gay Men Help Understand The Long-term Trauma They Endure Today

  1. Take a look at Walt Odets’ book “Out of the Shadows.” He talks extensively about how AIDS affected all the generations. Each has its own profile of trauma. For me (I’m 65), I feel in a different group than men 5-10 years older, who had established networks, whereas I was just starting out in gay life in the early 80s. AIDS certainly affected how I created friendships and networks, unlike those older guys who saw their long-standing friends disappear.

  2. well guys, i’m 65. i turned syro-positive in may of 1981. i know this because the new york blood center had frozen samples of my blood saved from when i volunteered for the hep. b double blind vaccine protocol. i did get the vaccine as i found out at the end of the trial. i remember that weekend of wicked fevers and tubs full of ice to break the fevers. i didn’t find out i had aids till november of 1992. a week in the hospital only t find out i had no immune system to talk about. all zeros across the board. my honey was diagnosed in the mid 80’s. neither one of us ever had any infections. i had been getting the january flues blues. all month. then it went away. didn’t even think it was aids. meanwhile, lost almost everyone i knew. not sure what kept me alive other than pure will. i refused to die and had convinced Andrew that he wasn’t going to either. we did get lucky with such a wonderful doctor. her name was Dr. P. Greiger-Zanlungo. an exceptional human being also. Andrew & I did end up with an incredible support system. Dr. Greiger could never answer the 1 question I asked only once, why am i still alive? the answer was, Kevin, I don’t know and don’t think about it. she then shhhd me after looking at my latest labs, Kevin, I don’t know how but, you’re immune system is rebuilding itself. whatever you’re doing, keep doing it. what i was doing was gambling in atlantic city. both Andrew & I strarted making regular trips there and…….WINNING!!!!! we never paid for anything, flights down & back, limos to & from the airport. that went on for almost 10 years. talk about preoccupying your mind with something else. So, now we’ve lived and now, well i try to think i’m not 65 despite all the other health issues that have developed. Andrew, the sweet man has alzheimer’s dementia. i’m still caring for him. but the doctor’s we’re dealing with now……………SUCK!!!!!! i had more arguments and disagreements, the turned his living will into a DNR. I blew every gasket in my engine. i taught those lame doctors a few things about Andrew’s health. they tried to let him die. he wouldn’t. i knew he wouldn’t. he went into rehab for 3 weeks. i took him AMA the fuck out of the shithole called the willows in rockland county. all in all, he died 3 times. the DNR was what the doctor wanted……….it was a problem off his shoulders. ha! i wouldn’t stop. Andrew is home with me.
    sorry all, i digressed.

    75 that I was living La vida Loca at 33 and was getting ready to move from San Francisco to Manhattan. My friends in SF and LA were beginning to be sick. My old friends in NYC also being attacked by some strange disease. I walked from my office on W38th to the far west to the DOH and was tested. I already knew, you brain keeps saying your healthy, your working you ride your bike from W76th to W38th and 9th ave every day.
    So started the journey to find a Dr With no insurance that was difficult, but one was found and I started AZT
    until in 1989 we were back in Ca., but the country. Found a wonderful clinic at UCD and now the head of Epidemiology/Infectious Disease is my full time Dr.
    Endless tests and drugs some intolerable, but as the lyrics go “I’m still here”

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