When HOUSE OF NUMBERS -- Brent Leung's excellent documentary about AIDS and HIV -- opened for a week's run last year, it was savaged in a particu-
larly nasty review in The New York Times. When, last September, Trust
Movies read that review, he immedi-
ately concluded that the film was not worth his time. Big mistake. He should have read between the lines. Because Mr. Leung (shown below) questions the "received wisdom" and the medical/political establishment party-line on AIDS and HIV, the Times reviewer (as well as another in the British medical journal Lancet only this month), suggests that Mr. Leung will next turn his attention to questioning the existence of gravity.
To begin with, any scientist (or even a well-informed layman) who imagines that the law of gravity and what is known about AIDS are remotely comparable in quality or quantity should turn in his degree or give up his day job (and perhaps become a Times reviewer!). Both reviews also claim that House of Numbers is a forum for AIDS "denialists." I do not think so. The documentary never denies the existence of AIDS or HIV. But it questions -- and question hard -- various held-as-gospel concepts about HIV and AIDS.
What is the diagnosis for having AIDS, and what symptoms does this diagnosis include? Don't ask. Or if you do, be sure to note what country you're visiting at the time. (Funny that neither of the above nasty reviews tackle this question -- or cogently address any of Leung's primary points.) Diagnoses have changed so over time and over country that this becomes one of Leung's major problems with how AIDS and HIV are perceived. AIDS testing is another. The filmmaker goes to South Africa, takes an AIDS test from a sweet young woman who should probably not be giving the test, or at least should be offering better information, and while in that ex-Apartheid place, looks into the major poverty there and wonders, as do many South Africans, some of whom we hear from (see below), that perhaps there is some mixing-up going on between AIDS diagnoses and immune systems racked by malnutrition and disease.
Approaching 70, TrustMovies predates the AIDS epidemic. He saw it happen here in New York City and has seen numerous friends, acquain-
tances, sexual encounters and one full-time lover fall to the disease. He's followed the ins-and-out of the official story and has from time to time questioned it -- as have many others who some-
times have had problems accepting what the medical establishment and drug companies are telling us. This does not make us AIDS denialists, but we do believe that there is much more to the story that is being told. And we wonder, as does Mr. Leung and some of his interviewees (one of which is shown above), why so little funding is given over to any theories other than those of the toe-the-line establishment? Instead, money and research goes to prop up what seems like a faulty-from-the-start theory, full of holes, and to the drug companies, which keep pumping out a lifetime of drug therapies to those infected.
Anthony Liversidge, above, founder and managing editor of Science Guardian, was happy to give it Liversidge has also been following the AIDS/HIV story for decades and says that House of Numbers get its facts right and is, in his opinion, a trustworthy documentary. (In fact, Liversidge covered the film
long before I did.)
Celia Farber did some fine investigative reporting for Harpers some time back on the subject of AIDS drugs, and more recently in New York magazine, David France reports on what the AIDS cocktail concoction is doing to AIDS sufferers now. AIDS drugs have always been dangerous: AZT was toxic-unto-death; the latest batch remains toxic enough to noticeably shorten the life span and productivity of its users.
mate question. So far as the gay community and a suppressed immune system are concerned, this connection has been on our minds since AIDS made its nasty debut in the early 1980s. Its appearance came at a time when many gay men were doing drugs that we now know suppress the immune system. But rather than owning up and then investigating this at the time, the connection was played down so that gays' "lifestyle" could not be blamed for acquiring AIDS. Yes, of course, there was and is enough homopho-
bia out there already, so one can understand gay leaders' reluct-
ance to admit to possible lifestyle consequences. But, hello -- what if? Suppressing the truth eventually comes back to bite you in the ass; by now it's little wonder so many gay posteriors are a bit raw.
Your next chance to see the film begins this Friday, January 22, when it be screened in Portland, Oregon, at the Regal Fox Tower Stadium Ten. Take that chance, if you're in the area. Check the film's web site for further screenings, and look for a DVD to be released later in the year.