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7 min

Patient Zero: Hero or Criminal

Gaétan Dugas and the 'AIDS Mary' myth

Xtra ran a great background piece on Gaétan Dugas, written by Guy Babineau, back in 2007. Read it for yourself here.

Dugas, an Air Canada Flight attendant from Quebec City, is a central figure in the history of HIV/AIDS. He was the key subject in a 1984 cluster study that indicated that HIV disease was likely transmitted sexually among gay men. He died of AIDS the same year the study was released, and part of his story was famously told by Randy Shilts in his 1987 book And the Band Played On. Life is complicated and this is one of the most morally complicated stories there is.

Why am I telling you this?

Check out Patient Zero, Gaétan Dugas: Hero or Criminal – A discussion tonight, Tuesday, April 26, 6-9pm at Ryerson University Thomas House, Ockham Lounge, 63 Gould St, Toronto. Richard McKay (King’s College, London) will talk about the truth behind the media’s creation of Patient Zero, Gaétan Dugas, the original AIDS monster. Event on Facebook here.

I caught up with McKay yesterday at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives in Toronto. He’s a fascinating guy with a very sophisticated understanding of the history here. The presentation tonight at Ryerson is part of his graduate school studies. See a video of part of our conversation below.