These Waves of Dying Friends: Gay Men, Aids, and Multiple Loss
Those with sharp eyes attending the Eighth International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam in June 1992 might have noticed, among the material promoting the many thousands of talks and papers, a small but significant cluster of posters and other presentations dealing with the growing experience of multiple loss among gay men (Amsterdam 1992). For example, from San Francisco, Michael Gorman and others reported on suicide as the leading cause of non-AIDS mortality in a cohort study of local men, regarding suicide in the dry, defensive language of the social sciences as one aspect of ‘the natural history of outcomes secondary to HIV itself’ (Gorman et al. 1992). In other words, we are invited to distinguish between the primary medical symptoms of HIV infection, which are by now well established, and the secondary social symptoms caused by proximity to illness and death among one’s friends and acquaintances on a constant, recurrent basis, over time.