Why The Entire World Thinks This French Canadian Infected America With HIV
The story of Gaëtan Dugas.
I'm sure you've heard of the expression "patient zero" in the past.
It's a term used to refer to the first patient linked to a condition.
But did you know that the very first "Patient Zero" was a French Canadian?
Gaëtan Dugas was a man from Quebec city who worked as a flight attendant for Air Canada, and for years it was believed (this has been refuted) that he was responsible for initially bringing HIV to North America.
In 1984, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that Gaëtan Dugas was at the center of a network of sexual partners who were infected with HIV.
The theory seemed so plausible. After all, Dugas traveled the world because of his job and was apparently extremely sexually active, having had over 25,000 sexual partners.
Dugas was referred to as "Patient o", as in the letter, not the number "zero". The "o" stood for "outside the area" because Dugas was from Quebec, but for some reason people interpreted it as a "zero" so the term "patient zero" was coined.
The rumor that Dugas was the cause of the virus became widespread. There were even books written about it where Dugas was portrayed as a sociopath who was intentionally infecting people.
People believed this fact for decades, which meant that Quebec was technically being held responsible for bringing HIV to America.
And that's probably not something we would want to be famous for.
But finally, in May 2016, a group of researchers conducted a study on blood samples from gay and bisexual men in the 70s and found that Dugas was not the source of the virus. The strain he was infected was present in the US before Dugas's arrival.
And since the study that named Dugas as Patient Zero didn't have any actual scientific data to back it up, after more than 30 years, Gaëtan Dugas's name was finally cleared.