Dugas was wrongly accused of bringing the virus to North America. Image Credit: PD - John Keith
The man thought to be responsible for bringing the virus to North America was actually totally innocent.
One of the most demonized patients in history, French-Canadian flight attendant Gaétan Dugas was dubbed 'patient zero' after it was believed that he was responsible for bringing HIV to North America as a result of his sexual liaisons with infected individuals in other countries.
Now however, a new study involving an analysis of Dugas's HIV genome from a blood sample has shown that it was typical of the disease in America at the time and that it did not originate with him.
Instead, the virus arrived in the US ten years earlier via an existing epidemic in the Caribbean.
It also appears that Dugas was never even intended to be given the designation 'patient zero' in the first place and that this may have actually been due to a simple typing error.
"The current study provides further evidence that patient 57, the individual identified both by the letter O and the number 0, was not patient zero of the North American epidemic," said historian Richard McKay from the University of Cambridge.
"In many ways the historical evidence has been pointing to the fallacy of this particular notion of patient zero for decades."
"This individual was simply one of thousands infected before HIV/AIDS was recognised."
Source: The Guardian | Comments (3)
HIV, AIDS, Outbreak