Before We Knew AIDS

With a New York Native report, Larry Mass first broached a crisis in the making

Lawrence D. Mass, M.D., is a co-founder of Gay Men’s Health Crisis and was the first writer to report on AIDS in the press. He is the author/editor of “Dialogues of The Sexual Revolution, Volumes 1 and II,” “We Must Love One Another or Die: The Life and Legacies of Larry Kramer,” and “Confessions of a Jewish Wagnerite: Being Gay and Jewish in America.” His most recent publication is “Hepatitis C and the Media: Lessons from AIDS,” the concluding chapter of “ Emerging Illnesses and Society: Negotiating the Public Health Agenda.” Mass is a unit director Addiction Treatment Services and an attending physician in the Department of Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

The following was published in the New York Native on May 18, 1981, three weeks before the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention featured a dispatch about a puzzling new set of symptoms debilitating gay men, on June 5.