Experiencing multiple losses and grief

In the 1980s, many gay men in Australia (and internationally) had their social networks decimated, and their lives shaped by the HIV epidemic.[11] Many long-term survivors have suffered the loss of lovers, partners, friends and their community. For some, in the early days of the HIV epidemic in particular, the grief of gay men who lost their partners was often not recognised by families and by wider society.  In many cases, this group was told they would not survive for long; now they are ageing, having spent their youth expecting to die, and watching many of their friends and supporters die.  In the late 1990s, US author Eric Rofes wrote that the ‘mass psychic numbing, fragmentation and suffering experienced by gay men is analogous to that suffered by survivors of genocide and wars’, suggesting that methods that have worked to aid these survivors may be more adaptable to people with HIV than traditional models of grieving.[12]   It is now increasingly recognised that some long-term survivors are experiencing symptoms usually associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (referred to by some as 'AIDS survivor syndrome').[13]