Killing Patient Zero
April 27, 2019 12:21 PM   Subscribe

A new documentary, Killing Patient Zero, sheds more light on the erroneous demonization of Gaëtan Dugas: "Based on Richard A. McKay’s landmark book, Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic (2017), the film features 38 interviews with friends and colleagues of Dugas and [Randy] Shilts, as well as doctors, scientists and gay men and women who lived through the epidemic, notably the sardonic Fran Lebowitz. They include [William] Darrow, who laments how his study was skewed, and Michael Denneny, Shilts’ editor and publisher, who takes the blame for igniting the Patient Zero hysteria with a shameless publicity ploy to sell And the Band Played On." Killing Patient Zero: Official Trailer. posted by mandolin conspiracy (9 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
I heard about this yesterday on the CBC and it was fascinating. Thanks for this post--I appreciate having more links to read up on this story.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:10 PM on April 27, 2019


I hope that someday we do that period justice.
posted by nikaspark at 5:54 PM on April 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


From Wikipedia (amphasis mine):
"Initially, however, the CDC researcher, Dr. William Darrow, who was studying cases in Los Angeles, California, referred to Dugas not as 'patient zero', but as 'patient O', the letter 'O' standing for 'outside California'"
posted by bitteroldman at 6:52 PM on April 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


I hope that someday we do that period justice

I hope so, too. We lost a whole generation of the best and brightest people from this epidemic.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:51 PM on April 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


I recently happened across a brief clip produced by AIDS Vancouver for its 30th anniversary about its first, organizing meeting at the West End Community Center in 1983, which Gaëtan Dugas attended and spoke at. He appears at 6:58 in the linked clip.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:55 AM on April 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


Those interested in this subject might want to check out the musical Zero Patience which is about the scapegoqting of Dugas.

It's irreverent and pointed.
posted by chapps at 9:16 AM on April 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


I recently happened across a brief clip produced by AIDS Vancouver for its 30th anniversary about its first, organizing meeting at the West End Community Center in 1983, which Gaëtan Dugas attended and spoke at. He appears at 6:58 in the linked clip.

Just wanted to mention that the documentary contains some extended footage of this exchange, as teased by the trailer - I was inspired to make this post because I managed to catch the premiere at Hot Docs here in Toronto on Friday.

The other striking thing about it is that a number of Dugas' friends and co-workers are given a lot of screen time talking about him as a person.

It's a really humanizing film, and long overdue.

The other thing that comes up from Darrow and other CDC officials through interviews in the film is that Dugas really wanted to help - and did. He flew down to Atlanta to give blood samples, and provided them with tons of information. He was important in their epidemiology as the "Out of California" case (and was actually case 57 in the list they had at the time) because he was actively assisting researchers.

Those interested in this subject might want to check out the musical Zero Patience which is about the scapegoqting of Dugas.

There was a Q&A after the Killing Patient Zero screening I saw on Friday, and one of the things Laurie Lynd (the director) said was something like "John Greyson was pointing all this out years ago via Zero Patience." There are a number of interview segments with Greyson in the documentary as well.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:00 AM on April 28, 2019 [5 favorites]


I just recently finished reading And the Band Played On, which in many ways is excellent, but it was jarring how Shilts wrote about Dugas, knowing now that he wasn't really Patient Zero. The whole book is written like a thriller (which is one of the reasons it's so readable TBH), and there's a lot of "sociopath in a thriller" language used about Dugas.
posted by lunasol at 5:26 PM on May 9, 2019




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