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Gene Study: 'Patient Zero' Was Not the Cause of US HIV Epidemic

Gene Study: 'Patient Zero' Was Not the Cause of US HIV Epidemic

The man thought to be "patient zero" in the U.S. HIV outbreak didn't cause it, a new gene study shows. (Sebastian Kaulitzki/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Wednesday, 26 October 2016 06:25 PM

A new gene study shows a Canadian flight attendant was not "patient zero" who caused the United States HIV epidemic.

More than 40 years after his death in 1984 from AIDS caused by HIV, Reuters reported the gene study showed Gaetan Dugas was just one of thousands of people who contracted the disease in the 1970s and 80s.

Dugas' name surfaced in the media and was used in the 1987 bestselling book “And the Band Played On” as “patient zero” in a California outbreak of the disease

However, the “patient zero” label was a mistake. Dugas was originally labeled patient O (the letter, not the number) because he was from outside California. Dugas was actually labeled as case No. 057 by the CDC, according to the Los Angeles Times.

New genetic testing of AIDS patients showed HIV in the U.S. didn’t even originate in California — it came to New York in the early 1970s from Jamaica, The New York Times reported.

The new gene study looked at RNA, which shows gene mutations and can reveal the progression of a disease. Dugan’s RNA showed he was not the first to have HIV in the U.S.; there were many older strains in New York City where the disease was spread for about five years until arriving in San Francisco around 1975.

By looking at the diversity of the mutations, it is possible to tell how long the virus was in a particular area. The samples from New York around 1975 showed much greater diversity than those in San Francisco, showing that the virus had been in New York longer than San Francisco.

Thousands of people were already infected in the U.S. by the time Dugan, the so-called "patient zero," came to the United States, the study concluded.

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A new gene study shows a Canadian flight attendant was not "patient zero" who caused the United States HIV epidemic.
gene, study, patient, zero, HIV, epidemic
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2016-25-26
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 06:25 PM
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