Study ex­on­er­ates Aids’s ‘Pa­tient Zero’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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