For several years now, an unprecedented serial rise has been observed in Russia. Increasingly, directors and screenwriters decide to experiment, implementing unusual and even scandalous projects. However, even against this background, the idea of ​​filming a drama about the first outbreak of HIV in the USSR seemed at least bold.

As a result, the rate of the creators played: “Patient Zero” collected a bunch of positive reviews, having found its audience. On June 23, the last episode of the project was released. What was the seventh episode about and is the plot of the finale very different from real events? StarHit decided to figure it out.

What actually happened?

The creators of the series were able to very reliably convey the real events that took place in 1988 in Elista. Then the patients of the pediatric hospital did become infected with HIV. In total, about 80 cases of infection were identified.

A commission was sent to Elista, which included Vadim Pokrovsky, the son of the country’s chief epidemiologist and head of the AIDS Center. After lengthy investigations, the “null patient” was identified. It turned out to be a military man who became infected sexually on a business trip to the Congo. The man transmitted the virus to his wife, and she passed it on to her little son, who was treated in a hospital in Elista.

The commission found that other children were infected by the negligence of doctors: they were poorly informed, used the same syringes for all patients and did not properly disinfect the needles. However, this situation was typical not only for Elista. In many hospitals in the USSR, in order to save time, the same drugs were injected with one syringe.

How did the series end?

But how did the series “Patient Zero” end? The ending was extremely unexpected. As it turned out, the zero patient was Klim Perfilov, the same man who, according to the plot, became the initiator of popular indignation in Elista. Perfilov contracted HIV while on a business trip to Africa, where he had unprotected sex with a local woman. From him, the virus was transmitted to his wife, and she had already infected Ivan’s lover.
But the investigation didn’t end there. Dmitry Goncharov and Kirsan Ayushev decided to test the drug immunoglobulin, which was injected into all babies in the USSR. According to the main characters, the batch of the drug could be infected with the virus, and this would explain the expansion of the geography of the epidemic. The first analysis gave a positive result, but Goncharov was no longer able to re-test: the entire batch of medicine was hastily destroyed on the orders of his father.

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In the final, Dmitry faced a difficult choice: blame the spread of the virus on doctors who dishonestly observed sanitary standards, or report a possible route of infection through immunoglobulin, which would cast a shadow on the USSR government. Dmitry decides not to undermine the authority of the authorities, so all the blame for the outbreak of the epidemic falls on the shoulders of doctors.


The outbreak in Elista forced the government to acknowledge the problem and report it on state television. Mikhail Gorbachev, who also appears in the series, issued a decree “On measures to prevent infection with the AIDS virus”, which establishes the rules for a mandatory medical examination, as well as liability for refusal. The rhetoric of the Minister of Health of the USSR Yevgeny Chazov also changed: he openly spoke about the existing problem and reprimanded the doctors.

However, no one was punished, and the initiated criminal cases were closed. On Chazov’s instructions, AIDS centers began to open throughout the country, supplies of disposable syringes were arranged for hospitals, effective tests for HIV were developed and introduced, and then therapy.

The series once again drew attention to the topic of AIDS, which is still considered taboo in Russia. As it turned out, the history of the tragedy in Elista turned out to be completely unfamiliar to many viewers. Now, discussions about that tragedy have resumed.

Photo: footage from the series “Patient Zero”

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.