Debunked! Patient Zero Not to Blame for US AIDS Epidemic, Scientists Say

Oct 28, 2016 05:41 AM EDT

The myth behind Patient Zero, the Canadian man named Gaétan Dugas, who was the person who allegedly brought HIV to the U.S., gets his named cleared 30 years after his death. Scientists now reveal that Dugas was not to blame on the arrival of AIDS in the country.

According to the study published in the journal Nature, a team of scientists has determined, through analysis and testing of Dugas' genes, that he was not the first AIDS patient in the US.

The researchers used a blood serum of Dugas before his death as well as blood serum samples from men in New York the 1970s. As it tuns out, the HIV virus arrived in the counrty in 1971, two years before Dugas, a former flight attendant, became sexually active in underground gay bars, Smithsonian notes. The HIV virus was said to have originated from the Caribbean and landed in New York. Scientists found out that the blood samoles from the New York men have already developed antibodies from HIV even before Patient Zero was diagnosed.

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Even though Dugas passed away from then AIDS in 1984, his name has been forever associated with the deadly disease. Medical records never released his name and masked him behind the monicker Patient Zero. But Randy Shilt's book titled "And the Band Played" taints Dugas' name, portraying him as someone amoral who intended to spread the disease through intercourse.

“There really is no question about the geographical direction of movement,” said study leader Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona in Tucsonvia LA Times.“It took a mixture of patience and insanity, but these old sequences are as good as a time machine."

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