From the moment I started viewing the House of Numbers trailer, one of 2 documentaries about HIV/AIDS that will be screened at Global Voices this year, it became clear that this film is not a “typical” epidemic related film. In an effort to better understand this disease, Canadian filmmaker Brent Leung went on a worldwide mission to study the science surrounding HIV/AIDS. And Mr. Leung’s discoveries question facts that many had long accepted as true. For one, 50 seconds into the trailer, Biophysicist Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos states that, “the presently available data does not prove the existence of HIV.”
This statement sounded ridiculous. Doesn’t HIV cause AIDS? You surely can’t have AIDS without HIV, just like you can’t have cheese without milk (to put it bluntly). Yet in the trailer, more and more of the interviewees were questioning the discovery of HIV, what we define as AIDS, and the way AIDS is diagnosed and treated. And these interviewees are the “major players” of the HIV/AIDS discourse: scientists from renewed universities, Nobel Prize winners, and directors of key non-profits.
It is important to note that not everybody is questioning the status quo of HIV/AIDS knowledge (President Obama stated last weekend that the US is committed to continue the battle against HIV/AIDS in Africa), and the documentary presents those views as well.
Through the interviews, the documentary raises some fascinating and disturbing questions. Almost 3 decades after we first encountered this terrible epidemic, why is there still a debate about its causes? And why do most people think that HIV causes AIDS, if the scientific community is still uncertain about this fact? I’ve never claimed to know much about this disease, but I’ve always believed in the fact that HIV leads to AIDS. After all, it is the official position of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the CDC. However, looking at the links on House of Number’s website, I found many organizations that are fighting this claim, and they have a strong backing from doctors and scientists worldwide.
I’ll leave you with this, though. While, the subject of HIV/AIDS got a little murkier for me, there are a few things about which I am certain. In 2007, there were 33 million people in the world living with HIV/AIDS (that is 5 times the population of MA), including 2 million children. 2.7 million people were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 2007, while 2 million people lost their battle in the same year. House of Numbers questions our knowledge diagnosing and treating the disease; however, the film does not question its severity or its impact on the world. So please come to the screening of House of Numbers, because the more we know about what’s going on, the more we can help!