You are hereThe Lancet reviews AIDS denialist film "House of Numbers"

The Lancet reviews AIDS denialist film "House of Numbers"

17 November 2009

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Talha Burki writes in The Lancet Infectious Diseases:

Strange, perhaps, for The Lancet Infectious Diseases to review House of Numbers. It is a threadbare documentary that claims there is no connection between HIV and AIDS. It arrives at this conclusion through a toxic combination of misrepresentation and sophistry. At best, it is a misguided and misbegotten film; at worst, it is downright malevolent.

All of which makes a fine case for ignoring it. HIV/AIDS denialism is an ideology in disgrace; the ravings of what Stephen Lewis—former UN Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa—describes as a “lunatic fringe”. To debate House of Numbers is to attend the film with an honesty and dignity that is entirely alien to its nature. Far better to leave it mouldering in the clutches of cranks and conspiracy theorists.

Only, denialism kills. A study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes found that South Africa's former reluctance to roll-out antiretroviral-drug programmes—a consequence of former President Thabo Mbeki falling under the sway of the denialist movement—cost more than 330 000 lives. Today, South African policy is very different; “the era of denialism in South Africa is completely over”, stated Barbara Hogan upon her appointment as Health Minister after Mbeki's removal. But it is not inconceivable that the denialist movement might gain ground elsewhere, with similarly catastrophic results.

House of Numbers purports to be an investigative piece by Brent Leung, a filmmaker with “unanswered questions” about the AIDS pandemic. But the disreputable credo of denialism is easy to recognise. The belief system can be summarised as follows: AIDS is not caused by HIV. It is instead a disease related to poverty, malnutrition, and homosexual lifestyles. Antiretroviral drugs are poisonous—“AIDS by prescription” claims Peter Duesberg, spearhead of the denialist movement, and a prominent figure in this film—the pharmaceutical industry is in on the conspiracy, as are the major health organisations. “Could it be that the real epidemic is extreme poverty not HIV?”, Leung disingenuously asks.

If you have a subscription to The Lancet, read the full article here.

The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Volume 9, Issue 12, Page 735, December 2009



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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