Researchers from the University of Cambridge are dispelling the idea of an HIV Patient Zero.
They explained that their study proves that the flight attendant who was said to be the patient zero of AIDS in 1980 was just one of the people infected with HIV. They explained that Gaétan Dugas, in the French-Canadian flight, was not a Patient Zero,
Richard McKay, one of the researchers, stressed that Dugas is one of the most demonized patients in history. He explained that before Dugas died, he assisted doctors about the sexually transmitted disease by donating a plasma and naming 72 of his sexual partners.
Researchers explained that Dugas was dubbed Patient Zero after CDC investigators found out that some of his sexual partners developed AIDS symptoms. They also explained that the term Patient Zero probably came from a coding misunderstanding, Science American reported.
They explained that during that time CDC developed a coding system using American States like LA 1, LA 2, NY 1 and NY 2. In the case of Dugas, he was called Patient O which means Outside of California.
They said that's where the misunderstanding happened; the letter O is mistaken to Zero. They also admitted that this could mean nothing or beginning.
Science Daily reported that Randy Shilts, a journalist, published a book that humanizes AIDS through Dugas. McKay explained that for Shilts, Dugas is the representation of the disease.
Upon analyzing Dugas' blood sample, the researchers found out that he was not the basis for HIV. A misunderstanding led him to be condemned as Patient Zero.
"Blaming other people has established a safe distance between the individual and majority that people identified as threats. The US AIDS crisis was no different," McKay said.
"We hope that our findings will make researchers, journalist, and the public think before giving the term Patient Zero to other people. Patient Zero carried many meanings and is dreaded in history," he concluded.