Study exonerates Aids’s ‘Patient Zero’
NEW YORK: The man blamed for decades for bringing the Aids epidemic to the US was despised by many – and all because of a typo, new research has shown.
Scientists exploring the spread of the disease have found that Gaetan Dugas, for decades seen as one of the most villainous people in medical history, was only patient zero because of a paperwork mistake. But the finding comes long after Dugas’s death, after he passed away from complications related to the disease in 1984.
The blame that fell on Dugas all relates to one small typo in a paper by the US Centres for Disease Control. That typo made him appear to be the first person to have the disease and the person who brought it to the US where it would infect over a million people and have lasting cultural impact.
The mistake made Dugas into “Patient Zero”. But that zero wasn’t a number at all – in fact it was the letter O and that meant very little.
“Dugas is one of the most demonised patients in history,” said Richard McKay.
Other coincidences helped to enforce the idea that Dugas was responsible for the outbreak. – The Independent