Apparently Gaétan Dugas, the French-Canadian air mattress who was publicly named by respected journalist Randy Shilts in "And the Band Played On" as the source of the HIV epidemic, was actually the ultimate victim of slut-shaming.
The New York Times reports
In the tortuous mythology of the AIDS epidemic, one legend never seems to die: Patient Zero, a.k.a. Gaétan Dugas, a globe-trotting, sexually insatiable French Canadian flight attendant who supposedly picked up H.I.V. in Haiti or Africa and spread it to dozens, even hundreds, of men before his death in 1984.
Mr. Dugas was once blamed for setting off the entire American AIDS epidemic, which traumatized the nation in the 1980s and has since killed more than 500,000 Americans. The New York Post even described him with the headline “The Man Who Gave Us AIDS.”
But after a new genetic analysis of stored blood samples, bolstered by some intriguing historical detective work, scientists on Wednesday declared him innocent.
The Los Angeles Times adds:
The medical community never released Dugas’ name to the public, but journalist Randy Shilts identified him in his 1987 book ”And the Band Played On” about the first five years of the American AIDS epidemic. (Shilts himself died of AIDS in 1994.)To which I say: he may not have brought it here, but he's still a whore! :-)
Dugas told researchers that he averaged 250 sexual partners a year, and Shilts portrayed him as a vain and arrogant playboy who ignored doctors’ orders to stop having sex to keep his infection from spreading. Media reviewers took the idea of a villainous Patient Zero and ran with it.
“Despite attempts at clarification and protest then and since, many still believe the story today,” the study authors wrote.
The Guardian says it was all because of a typo, which must be French for courtesy bottom in a bathhouse sling.
Dugas was singled out by People Magazine as one of the 25 most intriguing people of 1987. Pictured is an annotated copy of the magazine, which was sent anonymously to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation to show the intensity of the angry, negative stigma against Dugas. (Via DM)