As part of The 30 30 Campaign, which celebrates the organization's 30th anniversary, AIDS Vancouver released previously unseen footage of Gaëtan Dugas, commonly known as "Patient Zero" of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The footage shows Dugas speaking at the first AIDS Information Forum in March 1984 at Vancouver’s Westend Community Centre, asking difficult questions of some of the world’s top experts sitting on the forum’s panel. "So you shouldn't fear someone who has AIDS, or have symptoms of AIDS," Dugas says in the video, leading up to a question on AIDS testing at the time. "It seems like there's kind of a [fear] towards those people here."
“This never before seen footage provides us with a snapshot into the life of one of the most talked-about figures in the early days of the epidemic,” said Dr. Brian Chittock, the executive director of AIDS Vancouver. “For many, the name Gaetan Dugas embodies the start of HIV/AIDS – yet most have never heard his story.”
Noah Stewart, a founding member of AIDS Vancouver, also questions the origins of the "Patient Zero" theory and popular views of Dugas’s life within the video. Dugas has never been definitively pinpointed as the first North American with AIDS by the scientific community, but he gained notoriety as such in San Francisco Chronicle reporter Randy Shilts’s notorious book, And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic.
The 1984 video with Dugas can be viewed at3030.AIDSVancouver.org. The month long 30 30 campaign and website "chronicles the untold stories from the leaders of the HIV movement in Vancouver. These thirty videos will share the stories of the doctors, the nurses, the scientists, the community members, the advocates, and the families who were touched and inspired to make change by this epidemic." The group will release a new video every day in July, ending the month with a 30th anniversary celebration at Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom.