Proceed with Caution

This is an article I wrote for my now defunct column in this health website I used to be a part of. After four columns, they have stopped releasing my works and found that this has never been published. It’s a year old but the sentiments are still valid.

House of Numbers (a better title would be House of Lies)

House of Numbers (a better title would be House of Lies)

I’m angry. I recently saw the documentary House of Numbers, which promises to “rock the foundations upon which all conventional wisdom regarding HIV/AIDS is based.” Written and directed by Brent Leung, this documentary aims to examine closely the supposed “truth about HIV” and within its one-hour and thirty minute running time, tries to muddle the issue and re-edits scientists and doctors into somehow making a conclusion that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, that the HIV epidemic isn’t real, and that this is all some big scam for pharmaceutical companies to make big bucks.

I was so angry after watching the film that I wanted to punch someone.

Doing my own research, I discover that the film is being disputed by the medical community and that eighteen of the scientists that were interviewed in the film spoke up and said that they were misrepresented, that they were heavily edited, and that many things they said were taken out of context. Reading further reviews online proved what was tugging at my brain the whole time I was watching it. I could tell that there was something wrong with the narrative but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Reading other reviews helped articulate my problems. The documentary is very good at showing just one side and then playing with the editing, making the side he does not favour look confused or even idiotic, while he allows the side he favours to make their shocking pronouncements but does not give reasonable justifications to prove these sweeping statements.

It is a rather effective use of drama to muddle the issue. Never ever discount the power of drama and presentation. It can make all the difference in an argument.

But the truth rises to the top, always. And there is no way that Mr. Leung could present any justifiable reason to me that HIV does not exist because I have been living with it since 2008 and I almost died three times due to complications caused by the virus. He allowed one of his subjects, a woman infected with HIV who makes the drastic claim that it is the treatments that lead to AIDS. What the documentary does not tell us but I discovered through independent research, is that she was an HIV denialist and that she died due to complications of HIV. In the documentary, they said she died but of natural causes unrelated to HIV.

Yes, there are HIV denialists out there telling us that it doesn’t exist and that there is no epidemic and that the pharmaceuticals made it all up just to make more money.

I wonder if they would dare to take some of my blood?

It pisses me off because the whole idea is so insulting to all those people who have died of AIDS over the past thirty years, and all the hard work of every doctor, nurse, and health care specialist who are killing themselves trying to find a cure and making the lives of people living with HIV as easy as possible.

It’s insulting to every person living with HIV today who faces his or her demons on a daily basis.

When it comes to your health, there are so many things that you are going to hear from different people, all the time. Yes, there are doctors who like to take experimental routes and there are doctors who only like the traditional methods of healing. There will be news articles coming out all the time. Always proceed with caution. Get second opinions and do your own research. Trust your gut and always remember that we are learning new things everyday. There are so many things we thought we knew and then find out years later that we were wrong.

Never take anything at face value. Be diligent. This is your health. This is your life. Proceed with caution.

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