Thursday, August 26, 2021

House of Numbers: Anatomy of an Epidemic

House of Numbers: Anatomy of an Epidemic is an "alternative" documentary from filmmaker Brent Leung concerning whether or not HIV causes AIDS, and it has been labeled as a propaganda piece for the AIDS denialism movement. It was made in 2009, so some of the information on HIV/AIDS and medication is out of date, but the film mostly touches upon the AIDS crisis and deception from the medical establishment up to that point, and subsequent developments aren't too important within the context of this documentary.

I want to state that I'm not doing an in-depth analysis of every little point of the documentary—I have seen some of the criticism, and this documentary, whether correct or incorrect, is a fantastic piece of propaganda (to be clear, propaganda refers to the advocacy of a position, independent of the information being true or false—but people often use it to mean that something is both persuasive and false; I believe the former definition is superior and more useful as a term). 

I'll eventually grapple with these criticisms when I do a more in-depth literature review of the AIDS crisis. I think what the documentary presents is mostly convincing, but there are a few problems with one of its main arguments, which I'll get to towards the end of this article.

Where I think the film is strongest is in demonstrating the corruption of the CDC and the medical establishment as a whole. The press ramps up their narrative to be far, far scarier than it ever should be for the majority of people.

In actuality, the transmission rate of HIV is quite low, so it's not like you are guaranteed to get HIV from an HIV-positive individual (I'm not basing this view on the documentary—I have seen studies indicate this as well) even from receptive anal sex. This seems to indicate getting HIV is less likely for a person with a strong immune system. The more engaged you are in unhealthy behavior, the more compromised your immune system will become, and those who get HIV usually lead such lifestyles.

Promiscuous heterosexual encounters are also unlikely to result in either the man or woman getting HIV. Any sexual route of transmission other than receptive anal is exceptionally low. The way HIV finds its way into heterosexual communities seems to either be through drug use or when promiscuous bisexuals infect women through anal sex—usually these women are prostitutes or highly promiscuous themselves.

Despite this, the media presented sex without a condom as a death sentence. Sex education is hellbent on reinforcing the "progress" of the sexual revolution and emphasizing sex as merely for pleasure rather than reproduction and family formation.

When it's actually the promiscuity that society now endorses, which is only possible through contraceptive drugs, that is the reason for the explosion in STDs. If the culture still shamed casual sex with sufficient rigor, and the average age of marriage was lower... say, about the age of the early 20th century, which had an average age of 21 for women and 25 for men, then we'd be better off. Most important is marrying off the women instead of them focusing on careers, otherwise they get into society-wrecking feminist/refugees welcome/climate change/anti-racism/LGBT activism.

Enabling homosexuals and the rest of the alphabet persons also leads to a greater spread of STDs and antibiotic resistant strains, the overburdening of the healthcare system, as well as a disproportionate amount of medical resources and research being shuffled towards their needs, and a soul-crushing malaise that infects the nation. 

By the way, this is the documentary with the infamous clip where Dr. Anthony Fauci pretends that AIDS is not associated with a particular dangerous lifestyle—the homosexual. Fauci was always scum

The AIDS Crisis

Moving on from the disastrous symptoms of the sexual revolution, the CDC's budget was decreasing in the early 1980s due to federal budget cuts that were introduced with Reagan. There was increasing inflation, high unemployment, and a further expansion of the military-industrial complex. 

The CDC was hoping for a new epidemic or disease to come along. Polio had declined by the 1980s, when the "gay diseases" began. The CDC were becoming pretty much irrelevant, and they were looking at the possibility of reduction, if not outright closure. They needed to scare the American people to get more money.

Several gay men were found to have pneumocystis pneumonia. Kaposi's sarcoma, a rare cancer, was also diagnosed in gay men around this time.

What we now know as AIDS started as GRIDS (gay-related immunodeficiency), implying it would only affect homosexuals. Nobody cared, for the most part. 

AIDS didn't get any coverage until it was widely disseminated to the public that it was a virus—i.e., it was infectious, and it could spread quickly amongst everyone. Though the disease mostly affects homosexuals, heterosexuals rapidly came to fear the virus.

Then there was a lot of money to study HIV/AIDS, and it has been a heavily researched topic ever since. 

It's stated in the documentary that the data from the CDC showed a decline in AIDS cases by 1993, but how AIDS was defined began to include a CD4 T-cell count below 200 as part of the criteria, which sent the number of cases skyrocketing, though the subjects in question may not have necessarily been ill at the time.

HIV/AIDS soon ceased to be an epidemic and then became a pandemic. Africa was hit the hardest. The first of 41 countries on Wikipedia's HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate list are all majority black. Most black countries have a rate of at least 2%, and the top 3 range from 22%-27%. For reference, the U.S. rates at only .40%, and most European and Asian countries are similar or lower—rarely much more than 1%.

That's pretty insane. Rapid tests in South Africa and other areas seem to have high rates because the tests are inaccurate. There is a lot of illness in Africa, and many of these people who are believed to have HIV/AIDS may actually have something else. 

There are screening tests and confirmatory tests (latter to rule out false positives). In the developing countries they mostly just use screening tests according to the documentary. In some case these diagnoses are based not on a test, but interpretation of symptoms.

It's unlikely the prevalence rate statistics are actually that realistic or reliable. The numbers are perhaps even elevated to use Africa as a testing ground for HIV/AIDS treatment. I suspect plenty of false positives.

Based on the interviews, HIV/AIDS testing (in the third world especially; obviously, the quality of testing also varied throughout the decades.) actually seems to be liable to problems not too dissimilar from the current RT-PCR tests used to pad Covid-19 numbers. I'm not closely scrutinizing any of this, however, for I wish to leisurely research this topic at another time. Even once a more sophisticated test was available, those interviewed, along with the fine print on the document, indicate that it wasn't necessarily that accurate. The documentary is from 2009 and is a bit outdated, but the point remains of there being issues with the testing back when HIV/AIDS was considered a death sentence.

If we concede the point that everything the documentary is saying is true, and the medical establishment has been highly deceptive about HIV/AIDS, then it's quite scary. This crisis emerged before the internet, so alternative journalism would have been less abundant. You would have your investigative journalists, but the media had a tight enough control over much of what the public consumed, and you'd likely only see a thorough critique in a book or an obscure journal or article. 

Covid-19 being a hoax (i.e., it's just pre-existing viruses we're already familiar with, not really any worse than a flu or the common cold) seems very obvious to the skeptic who is watching it unfold with the help of alternative media pointing out what the MSM doesn't want you to see... but what will Covid-19 look like to people 10-20 years from now? Sure, there's a wider range of information coming from a greater number of sources, but how do we know most of that information won't be scrubbed or virtually impossible to find for the next generation? I've heard rumors that even some of the articles on the Wayback Machine are quietly being updated or removed. It's a disturbing thought. 

It's often said that the FBI has very few serious terrorist incidents to tackle, so they perform sting operations—that is, setting up a gullible or mentally deficient individual to bomb a federal building or commit violence. They manufacture crimes, so they can then swoop in to save the day, often being praised afterwards by the media. This "success" then warrants more funding. Accolades from the media are heaped upon the FBI, reinforcing the trust the commoner has for this corrupt institution.

Well, the CDC operates in a similar manner. That's not to say everything they are invested in is fake, but exaggeration for their own benefit becomes a distinct possibility. 

The CDC is a corrupt organization now. Should one be surprised if they were just as corrupt in the early 1980s or in 2009? Of course, just because the CDC is in on the Covid-19 hoax doesn't mean they were manufacturing a crisis with the AIDS epidemic, too, but from everything I've seen, it sure looks like they were. Even if what is actually going on here is "somewhere in the middle" with the CDC's handling of AIDS, as is so often said in a platitudinous—and occasionally fallacious—manner, it seems more than clear that the CDC has greatly exaggerated the AIDS crisis. AIDS has become an ample source of funding, with money thrown everywhere, especially in impoverished countries where immune systems are compromised and health is poor.

There are two core demographics contracting HIV/AIDS at high rates, and a third minor demographic, though this latter one often overlaps with the other two. For undeveloped countries you have blacks in Africa, whereas with developed countries, you can always count on the homosexual population, and to a lesser extent, intravenous drug users, to hedonistically crank up the AIDS prevalence number.

Notice anything in common with these three groups? All either live in poverty or lead unhealthy lifestyles. Blacks live in squalor in several of these African countries; their sanitation and hygiene are poor, and pests like flies and rats spread the ample amounts of bacteria festering within their cramped shantytowns. They become ill because of their environment, and their immune system is compromised. This can easily make it appear that they're affected by what we call AIDS, though most likely they're ill with various diseases and are malnourished. 

Homosexuals engage in high amounts of risky bareback sex (meaning anal sex without a condom), end up with lots of STDs and infections that they need antibiotics for, and use drugs at high rates—poppers are often mentioned as being a catalyst for the collapse of their immune system and a causal factor for what we call AIDS. This kind of risky lifestyle is very hard on the immune system and multiple organs. 

Intravenous drug users have at least the drug component down, though their HIV rate is lower than the homosexual.

Amongst the heterosexuals who suffer from the illness... how many are also drug users or have health issues or something that compromises their immune system? 

The sexual revolution led to an epidemic of STDs, and homosexuals were more out of the closet than ever before. They were free to seek out a greater number of sex partners in more shameless ways.

One thing I'm very curious about is what kind of conditions were affecting homosexuals at higher rates prior to the sexual revolution. Were they experiencing, albeit, in smaller numbers, a debilitation similar to what we have observed with AIDS, only behind closed doors and without the sensationalism in the 1980s from the medical establishment and the media? If they had fewer sex partners, or if they were marginalized by the media (the media didn't always speak of them in such glowing terms, and they were considered to be mentally ill by the psychological establishment as late as 1973), these very same deaths could easily go unnoticed. 

HIV Medication, and Does HIV Cause AIDS?

The filmmakers indicate that the medication for HIV/AIDS were causing a lot of deaths, and in many cases led to the development of AIDS. HIV medication improved in terms of efficacy over the years, and so the deaths associated with it were higher in the past. Some of the people who contracted HIV and didn't take the drug died early; on the other hand, there were also people who contracted HIV and took the drug... and they still died. Damned if you do, and damned if you don't, it seems.

This is where I think I deviate from the filmmakers. Does HIV cause AIDS? In the sense of HIV not being isolated with Koch's postulate, I suppose it can be difficult to tell for sure whether or not HIV actually causes AIDS, and it's not some other co-occurring pathogen or other bodily problem.

However, it seems to be the case that HIV is a marker for a compromised immune system, at the very least. AIDS itself seems to be virtually indistinguishable from a severely compromised immune system, and what we see as AIDS can happen without a person contracting HIV, but those who have HIV are more likely to have collapsed immune systems and exhibit what we believe to be AIDS.

Even if HIV doesn't cause AIDS, it is a sign that something is wrong, and there is a strong possibility that the subject's health will decline if there isn't an intervention at some point. 

I'm somewhat agnostic on the question of whether or not HIV causes AIDS, but a marker of HIV is not the benign irrelevancy that the documentary portrays it as.

Nowadays, HIV/AIDS medication is more effective. Perhaps it doesn't work well for everyone, and many patients may experience significant side effects, but these new drugs allow the patient to virally suppress their HIV, extending their life further. 

That was not always the case, and back in 2009, I'm not sure the people who refused to take AZT were really missing out on much. Years prior to 2009, people with HIV would often die much earlier than the general population while on the drug. Go back far enough, and not taking HIV medication might have been better for increasing longevity. 

Based on a small sample of people featured in the documentary who had HIV and were abstaining from using AZT, the average lifespan for a normal (i.e., not a homosexual) person seems to be about 20-30 years before their immune system declines enough that they would become terminally ill. This is a small sample, and their personal and medical history isn't entirely clear.  

That brings us to the main issues with the documentary that most of its detractors criticize it for. Several of the people in the documentary who had tested positive for HIV died soon either before the documentary was finished or just a few years after.

One man who tested positive for HIV died before the film was complete, and the audience was informed of this part way through. Most of the other HIV-positive people who died before the film's release date were only acknowledge to have died at the very end of the credits in small print. Most people probably won't watch the credits all the way, and I admittedly didn't know they were listed as having died at all until I checked the film's article on Wikipedia. 

Their acknowledgement reads: 
The filmmakers acknowledge with sadness the passing of three generous contributors to House of Numbers before the completion of the film. 

Martin Delaney, Christine Maggiore, Hank Wilson.

(Their deaths were unrelated to HIV.)
The parenthetical bit is based on their theory about how HIV works—that it is relatively benign and/or doesn't cause AIDS. It's really hard to rule out that their HIV wasn't a factor, and it appears to be a factor, indeed. At least in the case of Maggiore. I didn't look into Delaney or Wilson much.

However, it doesn't stop with those three. Another contributor was Kim Bannon, who died in 2011. I expected Lindsey Nagel might be alive, but, alas, she passed away in 2014.

I'm not sure how much of an impact HIV was for all of them, and I don't know if their T-cell count was low enough to indicate AIDS, but I imagine HIV was at least a strong contributing factor for Bannon and Maggiore—Nagel, who contracted HIV at birth, or as a baby, died at the very early age of 24, and it's obvious her immune system was very poor as a result of having HIV at such a young age—her child also contracted HIV. Most of these people succumbed to illnesses they probably would have been able to fight off with a better immune system.

Nagel was actually placed on AZT when she was very young, and she suffered serious side effects. By being free of the drug, she thrived, or so it seems. It's stated in medical reports that out of 12 children with HIV in Minnesota, she was the only one that survived childhood. For some people, the side effects may render AZT nearly unusable. This aspect of the story appears quite strong, until we learn of her unfortunate passing. She was back on AZT near the end, which probably led to AIDS denialists to say it was the AZT that killed her, but she was obviously in bad shape if she went back on AZT in the first place.

It would be interesting to look into a wider sample of people who tested positive for HIV and see if they managed to live longer or die due to causes that don't appear to be related to a diminished immune system. However, at this stage, it looks like HIV is a significant enough factor to lead to greater illness and/or death, and if you've HIV-positive, the current batch of antiretroviral drugs are probably worth taking, unless there is a natural way to suppress the virus (I'm not aware of any).

There are cases of HIV where the subject has an undetectable viral load, and they don't require antiretroviral drugs to maintain their health. Scientists have taken to calling them "elite controllers." One such case is Loreen Willenberg, was tested positive in 1992 and is still alive. These are extremely rare deviations from the norm.

There are also claims that many of the scientists were taken out of context by selective editing, but in some cases, that's probably the scientists simply trying to save their ass from being crucified by the medical establishment.

The really serious issue is definitely the fact that all of the filmmaker's "healthy" contributors with HIV died off in quick succession. While I would like to look at a larger sample of HIV-positive individuals who took medication and a control group that did not take medication, the outcome pretty much killed that one contention about HIV not leading to serious illness. People are ready to dismiss the documentary for that reason alone, but I think this film has merit for elucidating aspects of the medical industry, CDC corruption, a few questionable aspects of the AIDS crisis, and for giving a plausible explanation for what's going on in Africa. 

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