Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic

Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic Author Richard A. McKay
ISBN-10 022606395X
ISBN-13 9780226063959
Year 2017-11-15
Pages 400
Language English
Publisher University Of Chicago Press
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The search for a patient zeropopularly understoodto be the first infected case in an epidemichas been key to media coverage ofmajor infectious disease outbreaks for more than three decades Yetthetermitselfdid not existbefore theemergence of the HIV AIDSepidemic in the 1980s How didthis idea so swiftly come to exert such astrong grip on the scientific media and popular consciousness InPatient Zero Richard A McKay interprets a wealth ofarchival sources andinterviewsto demonstrate how this seemingly new concept drew upon centuries old ideasand fearsabout contagion and social disorder McKay presents a carefully documented and sensitively written account of the life of Gatan Dugas a gay man whose skin cancer diagnosis in 1980 took on very different meanings as the HIV AIDS epidemic developedand who received widespread posthumous infamy when he was incorrectly identified as patient zero of the North American outbreak McKay shows how investigators from the US Centers for Disease Controlinadvertentlycreated 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 zeroadopting challenging and redirecting its powerful meaningsas they tried to make sense of and respond to the first fifteen years of an unfolding epidemic With important insights for our interconnected age Patient Zerountangles the complex process by which individuals and groups create meaning and allocate blame whenfaced with new disease threats What McKay gives us here is myth smashing revisionist history at its best

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