The gay and lesbian community next month will fondly remember the contribution of former Melbourne GP Dr Herbert Gibson, who died in Sydney on June 5.
Gibson was part of a group of dedicated doctors at the clinic working at the coalface of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Middle Park Clinic receptionist from 1978 to 1981 and a friend of Gibson, Yvonne Gardner said Gibson was devoted to his work and his patients.
“He was a very caring man, especially working in the field himself being a gay man. It was at the time [HIV/AIDS] came out, it was just devastating, absolutely,” she said.
Born in 1945, Gibson died just shy of his 64th birthday. He is best known for his time at Middle Park Clinic where he worked with the gay community from the early 1970s to 1993.
Gardner said that as Middle Park Clinic had gay doctors on staff and was the first sexual health clinic in Melbourne, it soon became an important space for Melbourne’s gay community.
“In those days there weren’t the clubs, there wasn’t the support there is now,” Gardner said. “There were very few places to go, there weren’t gay venues like there are today, so it [became] a social network.”
Gibson was also involved in some of the first testing of HIV patients.
“McFarlane Burnet asked the clinic to do a couple of weekend workshops with volunteers which would have been in the [early] 1980s,” Gardner said.
“Out of 400 people tested, 70 percent of them came back with a thing called GRID [Gay-Related Infectious Disease]. It wasn’t called HIV/AIDS then.” Gibson spent his childhood in Bendigo. He moved to Sydney 10 years ago and retired there.
Long-time friend Owen White told Sydney Star Observer Gibson had been a popular GP. “He was a very caring man,” he said.
info: A celebration of Gibson’s life will be held at Melbourne’s Sircuit Bar, Fitzroy on Sunday, July 11 from 1-3pm.