I've been spending some time researching some history in respect to California during the 1960s and 1970s and it has taken me through events like the Counterculture, Occultism, cults like the Manson Family and Jim Jones' Peoples Temple, the proliferation of serial killers during that time, and the exploding population of homosexuals in San Francisco and the role they played in spreading HIV.
This led me back to a very popular figure in AIDS history, Quebecois flight attendant Gaetan Dugas aka "Patient Zero". Dugas was a very, very promiscuous homosexual who was showing symptoms of what would be later labelled as HIV/AIDS before the virus was discovered and even before they knew it was a virus or even sexually transmitted. He was having sex in bathhouses and other venues in places like New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, and Toronto. The CDC in Atlanta interviewed him and a cluster study was done in which he was found to be in the middle of a cluster of 40 of the first 260 diagnosed cases in the USA. (He told them that he first became active in 1972 and had 2,500 sexual partners by that point). These 40 gays were guys who either had sex with Dugas or were someone who had sex with someone else who had sex with Dugas. This cluster study helped prove at the CDC that the disease was sexually transmitted. The CDC continued to fly Dugas down to Atlanta for questioning and observation but they never publicly admitted that Dugas was their "Patient Zero" as per institutional policy in respect to confidentiality.
Dugas as "Patient Zero" appeared first in Randy Shilts' massive book "And the Band Played On" which documented the spread of the disease and the work done to start the fight against it as well as the bureaucratic hurdles that were in the way. Shilts claimed that he received a leaked copy of the cluster study naming Dugas. He then was pressured by his publisher to pump up the Patient Zero story to sex up the book so that it would sell more, which in retrospect was a successful strategy.
Dugas, of course, wasn't the individual who brought HIV to North America as many media outlets said when the book came out in 1987, but the belief that he did continues to be widely held.
Up until two weeks ago, all we had from Dugas were a few photos and the characterization of him in both Shilts' book and HBO movie based on it from 1993.
On July 10th, a Vancouver AIDS group released a video in which Gaetan Dugas can be seen asking very tough questions to a panel of AIDS activists and experts when this group launched in 1983. The group felt that his questions were simply unanswerable and very demoralizing.
This 13 minute video contains never before seen video footage of Gaetan Dugas which begins with a brief intro about him by his physician at the 5:45 mark.
As one of the first open cases in Vancouver (and Toronto), he would become subject to bouts of shunning at gay bars in those cities as word spread that he carried the disease (which was yet to be named and was still being referred to as "Gay Cancer" or "GRIDS").
Patient Zero Speaks in Never Before Seen Footage