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Maggiore's labs

01 November 2009

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"House of Numbers" offers new information about the late Christine Maggiore's experience with HIV testing.  In the movie, her oral narrative and the dated lab reports on screen simply don't line up. What the film clearly shows by including the lab work is that Maggiore was HIV infected, and the reports suggest that her immune system controlled the virus well for some time. Commentary are placed in the blocks.

Christine Maggiore: “In 1992, I was encouraged by a doctor to take what’s called an HIV test as a mater of social responsibility, and I was shocked and devastated and horrified when the results came back positive. It was one of those moments that everyone fears their whole life.  A week later, I take the same test to an AIDS specialist. He looks and says, this isn’t a positive test. I don’t know what this test means.”

The screen shows a lab report from Patricia O’Connell, NP, for Christine Maggiore, dated 02/24/92. Resolution is not good, but it looks like two bands—P24 and P120/160—of a Western Blot were reactive, the rest non-reactive.  This VERY clearly is a positive test.  The test interpretation instructions are below and she has a positive WB according to this test’s criteria (p24 and gp120).

Maggiore: “So I take the test again, and this time my results come back from the lab marked “’indeterminate.”

The screen shows part of a lab report in, with “Western blot” and “indeterminate” highlighted in yellow—bands from only 2 (GAG, ENV) of 3 groups positive. But it appears to have been a pretty thorough set of tests, include T-4 count etc. Interesting how shot is edited: column headings missing, no date, etc. NB: The second WB has different criteria – the same two bands are present but without a POL band this test will not be listed as positive. CD4 count (1040) and CD4/CD8 ratio  (1.28) are comparable to an uninfected person and typical of someone who is controlling the virus very well immunologically. No date though.

Some denialists claim Maggiore refused treatment at this time, but with this CD4 count it would never have been offered. Indeed, Maggiore herself characterized the advice of her doctor at the time as 'wait 'til you get sick, and then we'll give you AZT.' This quote also contradicts another denialist myth, that asymptomatic people with HIV were routinely offered antiretroviral treatment.

Maggiore: “I’m faced with a decision: do I want to wait six weeks to test again, or do it right away? I opted for right away. My results that time come back positive.”

The screen shows another lab report, dated 9/23/93—nineteen months later.  This is hardly “right away.”  It is REACTIVE on every line—8 of 8 bands positive. 

Maggiore: “Took it again, came back negative.”

The screen shows a lab report dated 08/09/93-six weeks BEFORE the test shown above. So the sequence of events she is narrating is not supported by the paperwork shown. The name on this report is Christina Maggiore, not Christine. Only a fragment is visible. NB: can’t tell if this one is an ELISA screen or a WB.  It looks like an ELISA.

Maggiore: “I took it again—positive”

On screen, another lab report dated Sept. 29, 1993. This seems to be the one she took “right away”—six days after the solidly positive test. Sept 29, 93: HIV-1 EcG Confirmation [can’t read] Positive HIV-1 Ab 3g (?0 EIA 9.9 ]

Maggiore: "I’m very much opposed to the concept of mandatory testing of any population, because the tests are scientifically shown to be unreliable and inaccurate."


House of Numbers

An AIDS denialist film "House of Numbers" is doing the rounds at film festivals and is being promoted to college campuses and similar venues. AT has published several items about the misinformation contained in the film. For comprehensive information on the lies and distortions in the film, visit Inside House of Numbers.


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