updated 12/28/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 12/28/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST
In most respects Gaetan Dugas was an ordinary man, remarkable only for his sexual stamina and a personal charm that time has judged fatal. A French Canadian who worked as a flight steward, he was identified by name last fall in Randy Shilts's monumental study of the AIDS epidemic, And the Band Played On. Dugas told a researcher that over a 10-year period he had made some 2,500 homosexual contacts in gay bars and bathhouses, mainly in New York and California. Though diagnosed with AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma as early as 1980, he never fully understood or accepted his role as a major transmitter of the virus. Sexually active to the end, Dugas died in his native Quebec City in 1984. He was 32 years old.