Hello, is it HIV you’re looking for?
I wrote this article a couple of years ago, when I first started researching for Antibody. It’s quite a fascinating theory – that AIDS doesn’t exist. Worth reading if you have any interest in either virology, or conspiracy theories…
AIDS eh? Bloody AIDS. Time was you couldn’t turn on the telly without some emaciated guy with skin like peppercorn salami pondering ruefully about his T-cell count. Not so much now. These days AIDS is about poverty and Africa and an occasional media-friendly outrage against big pharma charging ten thousand dollars for a drug cocktail that costs them coins to make. To most in the Western world, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has come and gone. But some, such a Brent W. Leung in his documentary House of Numbers are questioning whether it ever really happened at all.
The crux of this documentary is that the HIV virus doesn’t exist, and that this whole AIDS shtick was created by the scientific community to save themselves the embarrassment of looking ignorant. Once the virus theory was in vogue, those money-loving scientists realised that they could swim in wide research grant waters by continuing the delusion i.e. by looking for a cure for something that they themselves had created. To prove this point, Leung rounds up lots of eminent scientists and splices their interviews together to make them look like bumbling idiots who probably wouldn’t be able to get the top off a bottle of aspirin, let alone come up with a cure to a disease that is 100% deadly to those it infects.
I’ll be honest – I was skeptical.
It’s not that I don’t believe corrupt African dictatorships would up their number of AIDS ‘victims’ in order to rinse more aid money (oh, the irony) from the developed world, and it’s not that I don’t believe big pharma is insidious enough to rub its cloven hooves together at the thought of providing a lifetime of expensive drugs to an incurable diseases, and it’s not that I think all scientists are super smart angels who would never talk up a disease so that they can bring in more lovely lucre to keep their research facility open – experts are probably the worst exponents of confirmation bias, because anything that contradicts their opinions also devalues their expertise – but, come on, if HIV/AIDS isn’t killing all these people, then what is?
Except, over the course of those two hours, I found myself becoming convinced that maybe, just maybe, there was some truth in the HIV/AIDS conspiracy.
What Leung does well in the documentary is show how little the scientific community understands about either HIV (the virus), or AIDS (the syndrome HIV causes). There’s no checklist of symptoms for AIDS. There is no definitive test to say whether someone is HIV positive. No one has ever, definitively, isolated an HIV virus. The drugs that are given to patients to mitigate the effects of AIDS are so toxic that they destroy the patient’s immune system, causing symptoms that are remarkably similar to… AIDS! As proof of this paradox, Leung presents healthy, well-heeled, white HIV ‘sufferers’ such as Christine Maggiore and Kim Bannon, who after refusing to take their pills are still alive, years after being diagnosed. Take that science! Look at those non-dead people that YOU said had AIDS!
But one thing nagged at my mind. One thing that the documentary neatly sidestepped, and sidestepped again.
If there is no such virus as HIV, and no such thing as AIDS, then what killed and is still killing millions of people? And I don’t mean those poor souls in Africa and Asia and South America who have to wash in their clothes in urine-flavoured river water, and whose only form of entertainment is weeping disconsolately into a bowl of gruel – I mean the 100,000 people in the UK supposedly living with HIV. These people that should be young and healthy but who – for no apparent reason – have lungs so ridden with pneumonia that they’re about as much use for breathing as a sopping sponge. These people with apparently piss all wrong with them, except they look like one of the skeleton army in Jason and the Argonauts.
Can they really be infected with nothing at all?
But it’s the drugs that’s killing them!” cry the AIDS deniers. “The drugs themselves are highly toxic and If they didn’t take them then they’d be super fine and healthy forever. Just look at Christine Maggiore and Kim Bannon!”
Hey Shlomo, put down that bagel, we need to go spread some more of the killer virus to keep all the shwartzas in Africa, noch!
Or maybe, just maybe there are a lot of things in the world that we don’t fully understand. Electricity, quantum physics, the placebo effect – but we can see how these things affect the world, and create theories as to their nature. That’s okay. That’s life. Maybe we’ll understand them before the sun turns into a giant fireball that wipes out the planet, maybe we won’t – but to extrapolate from a lack of knowledge to a denial that something exists is the worst kind of logical fallacy. I mean, what else are we expected to do in the face of all these supposedly healthy people getting sick and dying? Stand around scratching our collective balls and pulling confused sorry faces?
HIV and AIDS are just concepts to attempt to describe what is killing all these people. They may be right and they may be wrong – though the truth is likely to be somewhere in between – but by claiming that HIV/AIDS does not exist is basically a rallying call to stop research, to stop funding, to give all the people that have whatever this disease is a death sentence.