Patient Zero was a publicity stunt in the 1980s during the AIDS crisis.
The story sparked sensational media coverage, drove a book onto the bestseller lists, pushed the “gay disease” onto mainstream America’s radar screen and helped jump-start an activist movement, all of which eventually focused more money and scientific brainpower on an epidemic that had already killed tens of thousands.
It was also wrong — intentionally creating a scapegoat to publicize And the Band Played On , Randy Shilts’ authoritative chronicle of the early years of AIDS. The book mentioned the case on just a dozen or so of its 630 pages.
“We lowered ourselves to yellow journalism. My publicist told me, ‘Sex, death, glamour, and, best of all, he is a foreigner, that would be the icing on the cake,’” said Shilts’ editor, Michael Denneny, in an interview. “That was the only way we could get them to pay attention.”
See link for more.
Why not? Ever hear of Typhoid Mary? If you had one sexually compulsive carrier- they could kill a lot of people.
I was a small child when AIDS first broke in the early 80s.
Could someone please explain to me the whole "green monkey" scenario? I never got that one.
the mainstream media was embarrassed and ashamed of AIDS when it first struck. they wouldn't really cover it. so I don't blame them at all for playing up this patient zero stuff, even if it wasn't completely true. at least it focussed some attention on it. you have no idea, if you didn't live through it, how difficult it was to get ANYBODY to talk about it at the time. especially our dear, dear President, the loathsome Ronald Reagan.
But RR was surrounded by gays in his administration and in his personal life.
Randy Shilts was the Andrew Sullivan of that era.
He was a PR whore.
I remember getting an HIV test in the '80's at the Health Dept. (negative). I asked the nurse a lot of questions and she said, "The same names [infectors] keep coming up but we can't do anything".
The first time I was tested, in 1983, it was still called HTVL-3. People called it "the gay cancer." Everyone was scared shitless.
There was no HIV test in 1983.
R6 I've always felt ambivalent about Shilts. While his book had "popcorn read" appeal, it also used the Patient Zero narrative as a convenient and novelistic device on which to hang the story. While there is no question that Gaetan Dugas spread HIV to a lot of men, Shilts created in him a demonic shadowy gay man--a boogie man, a Freddy Kruger. I think that aspect of it did a lot of damage in terms of the casual reader's views on AIDS and reinforced the stereotype of the irresponsible gay man. Of course there were many gay men who had sex indiscriminately, long into the epidemic (and some who do today) and long after it was at all wise, but I can remember how hazy the information about AIDS (or GRID as I first heard it called) was--in terms of transmission, then in terms of what percentage of those exposed to the virus would progress to full-blown AIDS (first I heard 20%, then 50%, and then 100%--and this was from a friend who was, at the time, a med school resident)--hindsight is 20/20. I remember my best friend telling me a female friend who did medical journalism and technical writing had told him we needed to be careful, particularly about rimming (this was around 1981 or 1982), as there was a cancer that seemed to be hitting gay men who reported doing this with frequency. Ironically, he seroconverted in the early 1990s and died in 1993: even with all his knowledge, he just couldn't stay safe 100% of the time (and I never ever heard him say "why me" once he was diagnosed). I know the first NY Times item was in something like 1981--I was in grad school and then living in a rural college town 5 hours away from a big city until 1983--and it was only when I moved back to Chicago that year that I really got a sense of what was happening.
What also made me indignant at the time of the book was when, not long after, Shields himself died of AIDS. At the time I thought it cowardly or hypocritical of him not to identify himself as one of the men (and women) about whom he wrote--to claim the identity of a PWA. I was much younger (and I understood the idea of a journalist remaining "outside" the story, but thought it a little too convenient): I think the me three decades later understands how complicated it must have been for Shields--and how frightening.
I don't know if I could go back and read the book again (though I have kept my copy). I certainly would not give it to my college students, unless it was to critique it as a rhetorical artifact of its time. I found the cable film reasonably good--well-acted, a little less focused on the spectre of Dugas, and a serious, if flawed attempt to show the complexities of the competing forces and voices at play.
video-Patient Zero,Gaetan Dugas, Speaks in Never Before Seen Footage from March 1984. Click on link below to view. (Advance the time mark indicator located at the bottom of the video to the 5min 45sec point to begin watching the the portion of the clip that features Dugas in it)
The footage shows Dugas speaking at the first AIDS Information Forum at Vancouvers Westend Community Centre, asking difficult questions of some of the world’s top experts sitting on the forum’s panel.
It was disinformation intended to hide the fact that the government created HIV In a lab and spread it to gays deliberately.
Patient zero is just another phrase for "index case", which is a scientific term used in epidemiology.
If you're going to be a smart ass, at least use precise language.
It's since been discovered that the first case of AIDS was that of Robert Rayford, a teenage hustler who did in 1969 and had rarely been outside of Missouri.
I never wanted to drink Coke Zero, just in case
Untrue R14, that case has been debunked, and was likely the result of a government experiment on exposing housing project residents to radiation.
I remember an MD reminisced about Patient Zero saying he was the most charming person he had ever met in his life. His interpersonal style paired with good looks made him the star of bathhouses in NY where he would agree with the other patrons and claim "I am the prettiest one".
My God, R11, what a beautiful man. You can see him after the 6 min. mark. Hard to resist. An accent helps. I see Air Canada keeps the tradition of hiring the most stunning people.
I see what Air Canada created there.
R12, back up. It's a virus.
And biological war is a cheap way pretty much all countries in the world conduct covert campaigns R19.
virus organisms are far smarter than us, you flatter yourselves
Dugas was one of the first people to call out the vaccine, so maybe that's why they called him Patient Zero.
There were lots of Gaetan Dugases running around. Still are. Narcissistic Mindless Murderers.
Dugas really was a psycho. He was told that he had a disease that could be contracted through sexual contact, but he continued to bareback at the bathhouses. He justified his actions by figuring the guys he fucked had a duty to protect themselves and if they chose not to do it and caught AIDS (or "gay cancer", as it was called back then) from his, well, it wasn't his fault. He had no conscience. He really was like Typhoid Mary, who was told she could spread the disease to others by cooking (her profession) and to never work as a cook again. But she kept going back to it, over and over, until finally she was arrested and quarantined for life. He was the same way, only with him it was sex. Having lots of sexual encounters was more important to him than the well-being of his sex partners.
I mean think about it. A Canadian volunteer goes to Hawaii to a conference where an American medical doctor breaks confidentiality and medical ethics to NAME a patient zero to a non-medical person
R16 link? You are wrong.
Watch the video R24.
I feel sorry for anglophone passengers that had to endure Dugas interacting with them on Air Canada flights when he was working. From listening to him in that video clip, I can discern that his heavily French-Canadian accented english speaking voice made him very difficult to understand.
[quote][R16] link? You are wrong.
Frankly, I believe him. How can AIDS come out of nowhere in thin air? I believe it was created to attack gays.
In the 1950's an English sailor had died of Aids. Aids has been around a lot longer than previously thought. It was probably an earlier plague that swept through Europe at one time and was later forgotten. It's been mutating for years and years.
Some people of European decent may have some immunity, but still, anyone can still get it.
Try to stay loyal to one romantic partner, don't do drugs, and limit your alcohol to none or just a few.
"Watch the video."
I did. It didn't change my mind about Dugas. He seemed like an asshole. And quite inarticulate. Did he not know how to speak English very well? Anyway, he seemed like a dick.
Interesting that one of the people Gaetan is talking to in the panel is Paul Popham, the first head of GMHC in NYC. (He's wearing the plaid shirt.)
Paul also features early on in "Band", in part because he, like Gaetan, was described as a very handsome man.
Editors know what sells and in Gaetan as a poster upthread mentions, they had someone who filled all the boxes.
R28 is a complete and utter moron.
No you don't. You're just trolling.
I find it quite telling that nobody has ever come forward that I've heard about claiming to have been acquainted with GD and saying anything nice about him.
It's been mutating for years and years
R30 answered your question, R29
At link is the the first published report about an illness that would become known as AIDS. It appeared in the "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report" from June 5. 1981. It describes five cases of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) discovered among homosexual men in Los Angeles.
He may have been a dick but he wasn't a narcissist or a sociopath. Remember American doctors were ALREADY blaming him for the epidemic and he wasn't sick and they couldn't test for it, couldn't say how it was spread, and what it was all about. He was just a typical person like you see at any town hall meeting with a feeling of being put upon, but with more reason than most to think that.
More on that please, R38.
[quote]He may have been a dick but he wasn't a narcissist or a sociopath
Narcissists and sociopaths have absolutely no regard or feeling of emotion for anything they do, and that includes gay and straight, giving someone AIDS or an STD.
The video implied that was an urban legend and his obvious concern at the meeting supports that. Look, he was Patient Zero not because he had AIDS - he did not get sick until long after that meeting so he DID NOT HAVE AN AIDS DIAGNOSIS (in those days you needed 3 opportunistic infections to have an AIDS diagnosis). He was Patient Zero because people in clusters in Orange County, LA, San Fran, and NY all remembered having sex with him. Well his name was different, his accent was different, and his personality was memorable. Plus he was a flight attendant who flew around the world including Africa, so they thought maybe he brought it with him and spread it. But he himself did not get sick until later, and many of the early people had sex with hundreds or thousands of people, many of whose names they didn't know. Gaetan was memorable, but he may not have had anything to do with the initial spread of the disease, and Shilts' claims about him telling people they were going to die sounds like a straight up fake urban legend - with the blond hair being a telltale sign since a photo of him from an earlier time with blond hair was published and made the rounds, but as the video and photos make clear, he did not in general wear his hair blond.