The book and movie are brilliant. This book is great if you want to know the origins of Aids. However, Gaetan Dugas was Not “Patient Zero“. It is believed that Robert Rayford, a black young man from Missouri is the First case of Aids and he died from it in 1969. This was confirmed in 2007 by testing the dead boy’s blood and the results confirmed that he indeed died of AIDS. By reading this book I learned of gay practices I had no idea about, the use of “enhancers” such as poppers, the practicing of something called “fisting”. There was a Huge division within the gay community; those who were monogamous and more family oriented and wanted the bathhouses to close, and the ones that were promiscuous and had had sexual partners in the upward thousands. The book traces the origins of Aids from Africa, the first case reported in 1981 and the latter part of the late 80’s. Sadly Randy Shilts died in 1994. I recommend the HBO movie, it has a Brilliant ensemble cast but Matthew Modine stood out the most as Dr. Don Francis and his Speech in this scene was very powerful.
“How many dead hemophiliacs do you need? How many people have to die to make it cost efficient for you people to do something about it? A hundred? A thousand? Give us a number so we won’t annoy you again until the amount of money you begin spending on lawsuits makes it more profitable for you to save people then to kill them?”
Another book recommended to me is The River by Edward Hooper.