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Patient zero and the making of the AIDS epidemic

McKay, Richard Andrew, 1978- author.
Patient zero and the making of the AIDS epidemic / Richard A. McKay.
Chicago, IL : The University of Chicago Press, 2017. c2017
xiv, 432 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 379-417) and index.
  • Introduction : "he is still out there"
  • What came before zero?
  • The cluster study
  • "Humanizing this disease"
  • Giving a face to the epidemic
  • Ghosts and blood
  • Locating Gaétan Dugas's views
  • Epilogue : zero hour
  • making histories of the North American AIDS epidemic.
The search for a "Patient Zero"--Popularly understood to be an epidemic's first infected case--has been key to media coverage of major infectious disease outbreaks for more than three decades. Yet the term itself did not exist before the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. How did this idea so swiftly exert a strong grip on the popular consciousness? In Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic, Richard A. McKay demonstrates how this seemingly new concept drew upon centuries-old ideas--and fears--about contagion and social disorder. McKay presents a carefully documented account of the life of Gaétan Dugas, a gay man whose skin cancer diagnosis in 1980 took on very different meanings as the epidemic developed and who gained widespread posthumous infamy when he was incorrectly identified as Patient Zero of the North American outbreak. McKay shows how public health investigators inadvertently created the term amid their early research into the emerging health crisis; how an ambitious journalist dramatically amplified the idea in his determination to reframe national debates about AIDS; and how many individuals grappled with the notion of Patient Zero--adopting, challenging and redirecting its powerful meanings--as they tried to make sense of and respond to the first fifteen years of an unfolding epidemic in Canada and the United States. With important insights for our interconnected age, Patient Zero untangles the complex process by which individuals and groups create meaning and allocate blame when faced with new disease threats.--Page 4 of cover.
Subject headings
Dugas, Gaé́tan, 1952-1984.
Medical subjects
Dugas, Gaé́tan, 1952-1984.
Subject headings
AIDS (Disease)--Patients. AIDS (Disease)--North America--History. Epidemics--North America. AIDS (Disease)--North America--Historiography.
Medical subjects
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome--history Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome--epidemiology Biomedical Research--history Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice North America--epidemiology
Genre heading
9780226063812 (hardcover alkaline paper) 022606381X (hardcover alkaline paper) 9780226063959 (paperback alkaline paper) 022606395X (paperback alkaline paper) 9780226064000 (electronic book) 022606400X


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