Who Is Patient Zero
Le MondeGaetan Dugas.
Epidemiologists, those who study diseases on a population scale, often try to work backwards to identify the first case in an outbreak, so that they can find the source. This is especially true in cases of food-borne illness, where illness in many people originated from a single food or food-producing location.
In the case of HIV/AIDS, working backwards to find patient zero has been part of the history of AIDS in the U.S. for the last 30 years. And conventional wisdom has long held that researchers had indeed found that patient. But new research now indicates that that finding was incorrect, and that a mere labeling error was the cause.
For the last several decades, the story went that a French-Canadian flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas first brought HIV to the U.S. Numerous books and films have chronicled his story and of course stigmatized him but it turns out that he was never patient zero at all.
Indeed, a study published in the journal Nature earlier this week shows that Dugas file was just one amid hundreds of thousands of AIDS patients, and that CDC researchers had labeled it with the letter O, not a 0.
Researchers used the letter O to indicate that the patient was from outside of California. At the time, the bulk of known cases were in California , and thats where CDC researchers focused their efforts.
Of course, Dugas was not an AIDS monster rather, he fell victim to fear and bungled bureaucracy.
From Patient O To Patient Zero
And the Band Played On
Similarly to Darrow, Shilts attempted to track the spread of AIDS throughout America. He had been covering the unfolding of the epidemic for a few years, earning praise from the gay community for propelling AIDS out of the shadows. Yet, in contrast to the CDC study, Shilts work was not solely scientific but took a moral stance on the spread of the disease, which he saw as the result of the callousness and unchecked pursuit of sexual partners by those who had the disease.
In particular, Gaëtan Dugas played the role of the central villain in Shilts tale, where he appears as a pleasure-seeking sociopath. Rather than willingly assist the CDC and volunteer his time, Shilts Dugas angrily responds Ive got itthey can get it too when told he must stop frequenting gay bathhouses.
When Shilts interviewed employees at the CDC, they mistakenly referred to Dugas as AIDS Patient Zero rather than Patient O, the result of a small typo. Shilts recalled he thought Ooh, thats catchy and seized upon the dramatic epithet for his book. This encouraged the implication that AIDS Patient Zero was the first man to contract the disease and was therefore responsible for its spread.
Mythology Of Patient Zero And How Aids Virus Traveled To The United States Is All Wrong
The story of how Patient Zero and AIDS arrived in New York in 1979 and triggered the epidemic in North America has been told so many times in so many different ways that for many people it’s become an accepted truth of our modern history.
It begins with a single man, a young flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas, who presumably became infected abroad and then unwittingly gave it to some of his sexual partners. His sexual partners in turn gave it to their sexual partners and so forth until the whole continent was full of clusters of people dying of the mysterious disease. In journalist Randy Shilt’s 1987 book And the Band Played On, and in various media reports, Dugas was described as sexually adventurous and said to have told Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigators he had approximately 250 sexual partners each year.
It’s a compelling narrative, but it’s not quite right.
In a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, researchers used genomic sequencing of blood samples from that era to go back in time and reconstruct the family tree of the virus in unprecedented detail. The findings are stunning, debunking many popular beliefs about the virus’s origins and spread and filling in holes about how it made its way to the United States.
It could have been a person of any nationality. It could have even been blood products. A lot of blood products used in the United States in the 1970s actually came from Haiti, he explained.
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The Real Gatan Dugas Was Not The Monstrous Aids Patient Zero The Media Portrayed Him To Be And Even Helped The Cdc Fight The Disease
Wikimedia CommonsFor decades, Gaëtan Dugas was wrongfully labeled as AIDS Patient Zero, the man who brought the disease to America.
Since the beginning of the AIDS pandemic, 35.4 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses. And for a long time, one man, a Canadian flight attendant named Gaëtan Dugas, was considered as the person who brought the virus to America.
But the story of the so-called AIDS Patient Zero was actually a tragic misunderstanding one that nevertheless persisted for years.
Who Was Gatan Dugas Aids Patient Zero
Le MondeGaëtan Dugas.
Born in 1953 in Quebec, Gaëtan Dugas was a handsome flight attendant who had begun working for Air Canada in 1974.
Darrow was able to trace eight of the cases reported in Los Angeles directly back to Dugas. The CDC quickly contacted him asking for his help in research in what they were now sure was a completely new sexually transmitted disease.
Dugas was more than happy to oblige. He flew to CDC headquarters in Atlanta and donated large amounts of his blood that would prove critical in future research.
He even volunteered to give the scientists an incredibly detailed list of some of his other partners who he thought might have been infected to help them trace the spread of the disease throughout the country. In total, Dugas estimated hed had around 750 sexual partners over the past three years and provided the CDC with roughly 10 percent of their names.
The charismatic,kind, and energetic, but ultimately doomed young Canadian returned home to Quebec and decided to volunteer at a clinic for HIV-infected men in Canada. He passed away from AIDS-related complications in March of 1984, one month after turning 31.
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Aids: The Making Of The ‘patient Zero’ Myth
- University of Cambridge
- A combination of historical and genetic research reveals the error and hype that led to the coining of the term ‘Patient Zero’ and the blaming of one man for the spread of HIV across North America.
A combination of historical and genetic research reveals the error and hype that led to the coining of the term ‘Patient Zero’ and the blaming of one man for the spread of HIV across North America.
A new study proves that a flight attendant who became notorious as the human epicentre of the US AIDS crisis of the 1980s — and the first person to be labeled the ‘Patient Zero’ of any epidemic — was simply one of many thousands infected in the years before HIV was recognized.
Research by a historian from the University of Cambridge and the genetic testing of decades-old blood samples by a team of US scientists has demonstrated that Gaétan Dugas, a French-Canadian gay man posthumously blamed by the media for spreading HIV across North America, was not the epidemic’s ‘Patient Zero’.
In fact, work by Dr Richard McKay, a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow from Cambridge’s Department of History and Philosophy of Science, reveals how the very term ‘Patient Zero’ — still used today in press coverage of outbreaks from Ebola to swine flu to describe the first known case — was created inadvertently in the earliest years of investigating AIDS.
Mistaken for zero
‘Casting’ an epidemic
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Scientists Just Proved That Patient Zero Did Not Bring Hiv To The Us
A new genomic study has shown that HIV traveled to New York City from the Caribbean in 1971, clearing the name of the man mistakenly dubbed “Patient Zero.”
Researchers have definitively traced how HIV first spread to the US, thanks to an impressive genetic analysis of thousands of blood samples collected in San Francisco and New York in the late 1970s.
The study, published on Wednesday in Nature, focused in particular on decoding the viral strains carried by eight people who were infected with HIV. Because the virus mutates rapidly from one person to the next, its possible for scientists to compare genetic markers in each strain to track the history of how it spread.
These eight new genetic sequences, along with a ninth from sub-Saharan Africa that had been done years earlier, are the oldest full copies of the HIV genome.
Looking at these archival samples allowed us to step back in time, Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona and lead author of the study, told BuzzFeed News.
Worobeys analysis shows that after emerging in sub-Saharan Africa in the early 1900s, HIV hit the Caribbean by 1967, and made its way to New York City around 1971. Within about five years, it then spread to San Francisco.
Exactly how the virus traveled from the Caribbean to the US remains unclear.
AIDS activists as well as scientists at the CDC tried to make the public aware that the label was untrue.
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Researchers Also Found That 27 People Of A Sample Of 41 Patients Admitted To Hospital In The Early Stages Of The Outbreak Had Been Exposed To The Market
However, the researchers also found that 27 people of a sample of 41 patients admitted to hospital in the early stages of the outbreak “had been exposed to the market”.
The hypothesis that the outbreak started at the market and could have been transmitted from a living animal to a human host before spreading human-to-human is still considered the most likely, according to the World Health Organization .
So can one person really trigger a massive outbreak?
The 2014 to 2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was the largest since the virus responsible was first discovered in 1976. It killed in excess of 11,000 people and infected over 28,000, according to the World Health Organization.
The outbreak lasted more than two years and was found in 10 countries, mostly in Africa but there were also cases reported in the US, Spain, the United Kingdom and Italy.
The Ebola outbreak that swept across West Africa has been traced to a young boy from Guinea who is thought to have caught the virus from bats
Scientists concluded this outbreak of a new strain of Ebola started with just one person a two-year-old boy from Guinea who may have been infected by playing in a hollow tree housing a colony of bats.
They made the connection on an expedition to the boy’s village, Meliandou, taking samples and chatting to locals to find out more about the Ebola outbreak’s source before publishing their findings.
Curiously, it was during the HIV epidemic that the term patient zero was accidently created.
Scientists Dispel The Hiv Patient Zero Myth
The HIV virus entered the United States around 1971, a decade before AIDS was recognized as a disease, new research confirms. The new study dispels the “Patient Zero” myth that a handsome, sexually active flight attendant named Gaétan Dugas knowingly spread the virus to North America in the late 1970s. That could have implications for the nations controversial laws that criminalize knowingly exposing another person to HIV.
“In the context of the origins and evolutionary history of HIV-1, this is the last piece in the puzzle,” says Beatrice Hahn, an expert on HIV evolution at the University of Pennsylvania who was not involved in the research.
“This is the last piece in the puzzle.”
Researchers have long tried to map the spread of HIV in the US. In earlier studies, scientists concluded that after the virus jumped species from chimpanzees to humans in Africa, HIV traveled to the Caribbean around 1966. From there, it likely traveled to the US from Haiti around 1969. Those studies, however, used partial HIV genomes obtained from patients in the 1980s and their results were contentious. The partial genetic data didnt allow scientists to exactly pinpoint when and how HIV spread in the US.
“It changed our lives.”
“Its a public health problem,” Beyrer says. “Its painful to be back in a place like that, after all those decades.”
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Genetic Analysis Shows Hiv Came To Us Via Haiti In Early 1970s Long Before Identification Of First Aids Cases Patient Zero
The Atlantic: How One Man Was Wrongly Blamed for Bringing AIDS to AmericaHIV arrived in the U.S. from Haiti a decade before the first cases were identified and well before the so-called Patient Zero contracted the virus .
New York Times: HIV Arrived in the U.S. Long Before Patient ZeroIn the tortuous mythology of the AIDS epidemic, one legend never seems to die: Patient Zero, a.k.a. Gaétan Dugas, a globe-trotting, sexually insatiable French-Canadian flight attendant who supposedly picked up HIV in Haiti or Africa and spread it to dozens, even hundreds, of men before his death in 1984. But after a new genetic analysis of stored blood samples, bolstered by some intriguing historical detective work, scientists on Wednesday declared him innocent .
NPR: Researchers Clear Patient Zero From AIDS Origin StoryThe scientists also sequenced the virus from eight other men infected with HIV during the 1970s. From these genetic codes, the scientists estimate HIV came to the U.S. from Haiti in 1970 or 1971, but it went undetected by doctors for years .
The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.
The Patient Zero Myth
For decades, a French-Canadian airline employee named Gaetan Dugas, has been known as Patient Zero in the 1980s AIDS epidemic.
Dugas, a man who had sex with men , died in 1984. Since then he has been blamed by some as a primary source for the spread of HIV in North America.
Dugas was one of the primary villains in the 1987 book, And the Band Played On, by San Francisco journalist Randy Shilts.
However, the researchers now say Dugas was falsely accused and unfairly blamed.
Gaetan Dugas is one of the most demonized patients in history, and one of a long line of individuals and groups vilified in the belief that they somehow fueled epidemics with malicious intent, said Richard McKay, D.Phil., a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in Cambridges Department of History and Philosophy of Science, in a press release.
In fact, McKay says, Dugas actually provided scientists with valuable information before he died.
Dugas told researchers after he contracted HIV that he had 750 sexual partners the previous three years. That wasnt necessarily an unusual number. Researchers said 65 percent of men in a Los Angeles cluster study at the time reported having more than 1,000 sexual partners in their lifetimes.
Much of that sexual connection was with anonymous partners, so many HIV patients couldnt give medical officials any names.
However, McKay says, Dugas provided medical officials with 72 names. That helped scientists track down a wide range of people infected with HIV.
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Was Aids Patient Zero A First World War Soldier New Book Claims Theory More Likely Than An Injured Hunter
LONDON, Feb 17 – As World Health Organization scientists comb the Chinese city of Wuhan for the first cases of the coronavirus, a Canadian infectious disease expert believes he has found the source of another pandemic, HIV/AIDS, more than a century earlier.
In a revised edition of his 2011 book “The Origin of AIDS”, published last month, Jacques Pepin questions the “cut hunter” theory that the blood of a chimpanzee likely infected someone with the simian variant of HIV in Cameroon in the early 20th century.
He now believes it is likely that the first instance of the zoonotic transmission of the virus how it jumped from animals to humans was a “cut soldier”: a starving First World War Franco-Belgian serviceman injured while hunting chimps in remote forests in 1916.
According to UNAIDS, more than 32 million people have died from AIDS-related deaths since the pandemic took hold in the early 1980s.
An estimated 32.7 million are still living with HIV, with an additional 1.7 million becoming newly infected in 2019 alone.
And it all began with a single case of transmission more than 100 years ago, argues Pepin, an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist who lived and worked in Africa for many years.
“We know it was a case of a single episode of transmission from chimpanzees to humans, not a matter of 10 or 24 people infected,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation via a video call.
“And from this very first patient, eventually 75 million around the world .”
Where Does Patient Zero Come From
The expression patient zero comes from epidemiology, or the study of the spread of disease. In the 1980s, researchers worked to determine why gay men in Los Angeles were dying of a mysterious disease, later identified as HIV/AIDS. Behavioral scientist William Darrow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interviewed some of the infected men and noted that many had slept with the same Canadian flight attendant, Gaëtan Dugas.
In publishing his findings in 1984, Darrow labelled Dugas, an out-of-town subject, Patient O for outside of California, and concluded Dugas was at the center of the HIV/AIDS outbreak in LA. A researcher, apparently, mistook Patient O for Patient Zero . In 1987, reporter Randy Shilts told the story of the AIDS epidemic in his influential book, And the Band Played On, referring to Dugas as patient zero based what he was told by that researcher. This helped spread patient zero into the mainstream.
It was later determined that Dugas was not, in fact, the personthe patient zerowho started the AIDS outbreak in LA. It had started in New York City in the 1970s. But the expression patient zero stuck, replacing the synonymous index patient , recorded in the early 1900s in many medical contexts.
Patient zero quickly entered the popular lexicon. By the 1990s, it was already being used to describe imaginary scenarios like, say, the first person infected in a zombie apocalypse, taken more generally to mean the origin of a fast-spreading epidemic.
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