Turns out that Patient 0 (as in the numeral), who’s been blamed for bringing AIDS into the United States, was actually Patient O (as in the letter) and was not in fact the single herald of one of the greatest health crises in modern times, according to a study in Nature. A typographical error led to branding flight attendant Gaetan Dugas as the primary carrier of the disease when, in fact, he was one of thousands of people infected before HIV/AIDS was recognized. Patient O (letter) referred to the fact that Dugas came from outside California. No one in the scientific community believed that there was a Patient 0 (numeral), but popular culture skewered Dugas for his allegedly cavalier attitude toward spreading the disease, especially in the book And the Band Played On and the movie of the same name.
Researchers said that they “recovered the HIV-1 genome from the individual known as ‘Patient 0’ and found neither biological nor historical evidence that he was the primary case in the U.S. or for subtype B as a whole.”