Arvid Noe

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Arvid Darre Noe
Born Arne Vidar Røed
(1946-07-23)23 July 1946
Died 24 April 1976(1976-04-24) (aged 29)
Cause of death AIDS-related complications
Resting place Borre Cemetery
Occupation Sailor, truck driver
Known for First named person known to have contracted HIV
Children 3

Arne Vidar Røed, known in medical literature as Arvid Darre Noe (23 July 1946 – 24 April 1976), was a Norwegian sailor and truck driver who contracted one of the earliest confirmed cases of HIV/AIDS. His was the first confirmed HIV case in Europe, though the disease was not identified at the time of his death. The virus spread to his wife and youngest daughter, both of whom also died; this was the first documented cluster of AIDS cases before the AIDS epidemic of the early 1980s.[1] The researchers studying the cases referred to Røed as the "Norwegian Sailor" and the anagram "Arvid Noe" to conceal his identity; his true name became known after his death.

Illness and death[edit]

Røed began his career as a sailor in 1961, when he was 15 years old. Journalist Edward Hooper established that Røed had twice visited Africa as a sailor; first from mid-1961 to mid-1962 when Røed worked on the merchant vessel Hoegh Aronde, which traveled the west coast of Africa to Douala, Cameroon. Røed was treated for gonorrhea on this journey. He returned to Africa in 1964, when he reached the port city of Mombasa, Kenya, in eastern Africa.[2]

By 1968, Røed was no longer a sailor and was working as a long haul truck driver throughout Europe (mainly in Germany). Beginning in 1966 (the same year Robert Rayford first presented with symptoms), Røed suffered from joint pain, lymphedema, and lung infections. His condition stabilized with treatment until 1975, when Røed's symptoms worsened. He developed motor control difficulties and dementia, and died on 24 April 1976. His wife grew ill with similar symptoms and died in December. Although their two older children were not born infected, their third child, a daughter, died on 4 January 1976, at the age of eight and, thus, was the first person documented to have died of AIDS outside the United States. Røed, his wife, and his daughter were buried in Borre, Vestfold, Norway.

Later investigations[edit]

Approximately a decade after Røed's death, tests by Dr. Stig Sophus Frøland of the Oslo National Hospital concluded that blood samples from Røed, his daughter and wife all tested positive for HIV.[3]

Based on research conducted after his death, Røed is believed to have contracted HIV in Cameroon in 1961 or 1962, where he was known to have been sexually active with many African women, including prostitutes.[4] Røed was infected with HIV-1 group O, which is known to have been prevalent in Cameroon in the early 1960s.[5]

During his tenure as a truck driver, from 1968 to 1972, Røed engaged in sexual activity with many prostitutes and almost certainly gave some HIV; these women almost certainly passed the disease on to other clients.[6]

See also[edit]

  • Gaëtan Dugas — homosexual Canadian flight attendant who was alleged to have infected between 245-350 gay men from 1972 until his death in 1984, and was once called Patient Zero by author Randy Shilts; this claim was refuted by the determination that it takes a person infected with HIV ten years, on average, to develop AIDS
  • Grethe Rask — Danish physician infected in 1964 in Zaire or in 1972 while performing surgery; died in 1977
  • Robert Rayford — 15-year-old St. Louis teenager who was the first confirmed death from AIDS in North America; died 1969
  • Timeline of early AIDS cases


  1. ^ Kreston, Rebecca (22 October 2012). "The Sea Has Neither Sense Nor Pity: the Earliest Known Cases of AIDS in the Pre-AIDS Era". Discover. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Hooper, Edward (1999). The River: A Journey Back to the Source of HIV and AIDS. Allen Lane. p. 772. ISBN 0-713-99335-9. 
  3. ^ Frøland, S.S., et al.. "HIV-1 Infection in Norwegian Family before 1970". The Lancet. 11 June 1988. Pp. 1344-1345
  4. ^ Hooper, Edward, Sailors and star-bursts, and the arrival of HIV, from the British Medical Journal, 1997
  5. ^ Hooper 1999 p.321
  6. ^ Hooper 1999 p.519