Patient Zero – The truth

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Gaétan Dugas | Anonymous/Associated Press | 16489gh

The alleged “Patient Zero” of the American AIDS epidemic was a French Canadian flight attendant named Gaétan Dugas, who died of AIDS in 1984. Mr Dugas was exonerated last week. Far from being the instigator of an epidemic, he was merely one of thousands of its victims.

New genetic sequencing of blood samples which had been stored since the 1970s showed that the strain infecting him had circulated among gay men in New York for several years before he arrived in the US in 1974. So he did not introduce the virus to North America; he was a victim.

The revelation proves that the epidemic’s early days had been overshadowed by a witch hunt.

Federal health officials said homosexuals, Haitians, hemophiliacs and heroin users were all victims — thus effectively calling them all carriers. Many individuals felt the sting of suspicion, including Ryan White, a 13-year-old hemophiliac who was bullied and barred from middle school after he contracted H.I.V. from a blood-clotting factor.

Mr. Dugas’s name emerged when Randy Shilts, the journalist who himself later died of AIDS, published his best-selling history of the epidemic, “And the Band Played On.” Through interviews, he found the real name of the mysterious “Patient O,” for “outside California,” in a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linking 40 men with AIDS on two coasts.

Mr. Shilts never claimed that Mr. Dugas was the nation’s first case, but alarmist journalism during his book publicity tour created the image of a libertine who, as one headline screamed, “Gave Us AIDS.”

“The current study provides further evidence that patient 57, the individual identified both by the letter O and the number 0, was not patient zero of the North American epidemic,” said Richard McKay, historian and co-author of the study from the University of Cambridge, adding that the authors of the original study had already pointed out he was unlikely to be the source. He said a “trail of error and hype” had led to Dugas being branded with the “Patient Zero” title.

“Gaétan Dugas is one of the most demonised patients in history, and one of a long line of individuals and groups vilified in the belief that they somehow fuelled epidemics with malicious intent,” said McKay.

The revelation has caused medical experts to consider the ethics involved when patients identities are revealed. Is it right to hunt down the first case in any outbreak, to find every Patient Zero?

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/oct/26/patient-zero-gaetan-dugas-not-source-of-hivaids-outbreak-study-proves

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Rock and roll is so so gay!

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Martin Aston | The Writing Disorder | 16472gh

Martin Aston writes in The Guardian over the contribution the gay community made to rock and roll music. Many of the rock pioneers were gay and in the closet at the time.

It seems there was a brief flowering of gay culture within the main culture of music in America almost one hundred years ago.

… Talking about sex is hardly new for gay artists. They were doing the dirty in song almost 100 years ago, in 1920s Harlem, when blues singers such as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith sang about same-sex affairs. Even gay men, less documented than the women, took advantage of a brief new social permissiveness following the first world war – George Hannah wrote and sang Freakish Man Blues in 1930. Away from the blues, there was the first gay pride anthem in 1920, Das Lila Lied (aka The Lavender Song), written by Berlin-based duo Spoliansky and Schwabach, through to the stars of the so-called Pansy Craze, popular in New York from 1930. From this came Gene – sometimes spelled Jean – Malin, whose 78rpm single I’d Rather Be Spanish Than Mannish predated Noël Coward’s none-more-camp delivery and innuendo. But the Pansy Craze was quickly snuffed out when 1929’s economic crash snowballed into the Great Depression, unleashing a new wave of religious bigotry and social repression.

Martin Aston’s book Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache: How Music Came Out was published by Constable on 13 October.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/oct/11/industry-queer-gay-pop-artists-frank-ocean-little-richard

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Wayne Friday

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San Francisco Chronicle/Uncredited photographer | 16469gh

Wayne Friday, pictured in 1979, a former city police commissioner, bartender, and a political columnist who chronicled the coming-of-age of San Francisco’s gay community, died on Wednesday aged 79.

A native of Michigan, Mr. Friday moved from New York to San Francisco in 1970 and began tending bar at gay bars. He became president of the Tavern Guild, an association of gay bars that also provided health services and social support in the early years of the AIDS epidemic.

“It was total freedom out here, for everybody,” Mr. Friday recalled in a 2001 interview with The San Francisco Chronicle. “I had just come out of the closet. … The city was a fantasy for grown-ups, gay and straight alike.” One of his friends was Harvey Milk, the gay community leader who was then political columnist for the Bay Area Reporter.

Gay History sends condolences to family, friends and colleagues.

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Wayne-Friday-influential-in-SF-gay-community-9972852.php

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Islington gets a gay archive

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Highbury Fields, 1971. Picture: Islington Local History Centre | 16460ga

A new LGBT archive is being created in Islington, London, a borough steeped with LGBT history. Today Islington council launched an appeal for people to scour their homes for LGBT memorabilia – photos, posters, flyers etc – to build the archive, which is likely to be housed at Islington Museum in St John Street.

150 brave campaigners held Britain’s first ever gay rights protest in November 1970 in Highbury Fields. A torchlight rally was organised by the Gay Liberation Front in response to the arrest of Louis Eakes in the Fields. Mr Eakes, of the Young Liberals, was detained for cruising several men in a police entrapment operation. Mr Eakes claimed he was asking them for a light.

http://www.islingtongazette.co.uk/news/heritage/highbury_fields_gay_rights_demo_was_a_watershed_moment_islington_museum_to_set_up_first_lgbt_archive_1_4729260

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German victims of Paragraph 175 to get compensation at last

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Gay prisoners in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen with pink triangles. Germany, December 1938 | Unknown photographer | Socialist Worker | 16448gh

Germany is set to compensate up to 50,000 men convicted under a historic law which was still in effect until the late 1960s. “Paragraph 175” was part of Germany’s criminal code from 1871 to 1994, and made homosexual acts between men a criminal offence.

Thousands of gay and bisexual men were arrested and incarcerated in NZI concentration camps. Those who managed to escape the camps were often arrested again under Paragraph 175. The persecution continued well after the end of World War II. Gay men were often socially ostracised as well as losing their homes and jobs.

Since the end of World War II, a total of over 140,000 men were convicted, and 50,000 were prosecuted under Paragraph 175.

€30m will be made available in compensation to survivors, depending on individual cases, and taking the length of sentence into consideration.

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Heiko Maas | Heiko Maas | 16449gh

Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the draft law, which will be formally announced later in October, will offer “relatively uncomplicated” individual claims, as well as allowing for collective claims.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/germany-compensate-50000-gay-men-who-were-jailed-their-sexual-orientation-1585450

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