There is a legend that Patient Zero, Gaetan Dugas, a French Canadian flight attendant supposedly picked up H.I.V. in Haiti or Africa and spread it to many men before he died in 1984. He is also sometimes blamed for almost all AIDS cases in the United Sates, from Zaire to Haiti to New York in 1969-1971. A new genetic analysis of blood samples that were stored declared that Dugas is innocent. The analysis showed that Digas’s blood that was sampled in 1983 contained a viral strain that was already infecting men in New York before he went to gay bars in New York in 1974. Dugas was originally the focal point of the epidemic because he kept a diary about his travels and he gave names to investigators. The researchers also reflected on the fact that they originally believed that the epidemic could be blamed on just one person, but now looking at it, it seems like it is not plausible because the epidemic was too widespread in Africa.
Dr. Jacques Pepin is an infectious disease specialist at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec showed that H.I.V. was carried from Kinshasa to Haiti in the 1960s. It was probably carried by one the Haitian civil servants that was recruited by the United Nations to work in the Beglian Congo. He also explained that Haiti was a sex-tourism destination for gay men, which is another way that the virus could have travelled to New York. More blood samples that were stored away in 19798 and 1979 from New York and San Francisco were analyzed. They showed that all of the New York samples all derive from one Haitian strain and the San Francisco strain were so closely related that they probably both derived from one person, or multiple people introducing the strain in New York. The myth of patient zero is being put to an end because of the new genetic studies that have been under analysis. Before reading this article I was confused on who Patient Zero actually was, and it came to a surprise that it was all blamed on one person, because as mentioned above, the researchers on this case thought that was absurd as well. It is crazy to think that the researchers are coming across this information now after so much time has passed after the discovery of H.I.V. and after publishing all of the data that they already had about Patient Zero.