Cambridge historian helps clear man accused of causing AIDS epidemic in the US

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tags: AIDS, Cambridge, Patient Zero

A new study proves that a flight attendant who became notorious as the human epicentre of the US AIDS crisis of the 1980s -- and the first person to be labeled the 'Patient Zero' of any epidemic -- was simply one of many thousands infected in the years before HIV was recognized.

Research by a historian from the University of Cambridge and the genetic testing of decades-old blood samples by a team of US scientists has demonstrated that Gaétan Dugas, a French-Canadian gay man posthumously blamed by the media for spreading HIV across North America, was not the epidemic's 'Patient Zero’.

In fact, work by Dr Richard McKay, a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow from Cambridge's Department of History and Philosophy of Science, reveals how the very term 'Patient Zero' -- still used today in press coverage of outbreaks from Ebola to swine flu to describe the first known case -- was created inadvertently in the earliest years of investigating AIDS.

Read entire article at Science Daily

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