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House of Numbers: Anatomy of an Epidemic (2009)

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What is HIV? What is AIDS? What is being done to cure it? These questions sent Canadian filmmaker Brent Leung on a worldwide journey, from the highest echelons of the medical research ... See full summary »


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Title: House of Numbers: Anatomy of an Epidemic (2009)

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Credited cast:
Luc Montagnier ...
Himself - Discoverer of HIV
Francois Barre-Sinnousi ...
Herself - Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine
Anthony Fauci ...
Himself - Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Himself - Chairman of the Board, amfAR
James Curran ...
Himself - Former Director, CDC AIDS Division
David Baltimore ...
Himself - Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine
Donald P. Francis ...
Himself - Epidemiologist, CDC
Michael Gottlieb ...
Himself - First Doctor to Diagnose AIDS, UCLA Medical Center
Harold Jaffe ...
Himself - Former Director, CDC AIDS Division
Daniel Kuritzkes ...
Himself - Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Reinhard Kurth ...
Himself - President, Robert Koch Institute Germany
Joseph B. McCormick ...
Himself - Epidemiologist, CDC
John P. Moore ...
Himself - Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Weill Cornell Medical College
Peter Piot ...
Himself - Executive Director, UNAIDS
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Donald Abrams ...
Himself - Chief of Hematology-Oncology, San Francisco General Hospital


What is HIV? What is AIDS? What is being done to cure it? These questions sent Canadian filmmaker Brent Leung on a worldwide journey, from the highest echelons of the medical research establishment to the slums of South Africa, where death and disease are the order of the day. In this up-to-the-minute documentary, he observes that although AIDS has been front-page news for over 28 years, it is barely understood. Despite the great effort, time, and money spent, no cure is in sight. Born in 1980 (on the cusp of the epidemic), Leung reveals a research establishment in disarray, and health policy gone tragically off course. Gaining access to a remarkable array of the most prominent and influential figures in the field -- among them the co-discoverers of HIV, presidential advisors, Nobel laureates, and the Executive Director of UNAIDS, as well as survivors and activists -- his restrained approach yields surprising revelations and stunning contradictions. The HIV/AIDS story is being ... Written by Knowledge Matters, LLC

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A world without HIV/AIDS may be closer than you think.




Not Rated


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Release Date:

19 April 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

House of Numbers: Anatomy of an Epidemic  »

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1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


A photo meeting between Ronald Reagan and Jacques Chirac wrongly informs that Chirac was the French President during a White House conference about AIDS in 1987. Chirac was France's Prime Minister at the time, sent by President François Mitterand. See more »


Herself - Investigative Journalist: AIDS is the best example of what's really scary, alarming and dangerous about our culture right now, which is that it's a culture of PR. It's a Public Relations phenomenon. The truth doesn't matter, what matters is the image.
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User Reviews

Doubt is good and healthy but it can be dangerous as well. Relatively manageable documentary but painfully false
3 September 2013 | by (São Paulo, Brazil) – See all my reviews

While I praise this documentary for making us doubt about everything we know about HIV since its earlier cases in 1981, I recognize that despite the various authorities on the issue and their strange contributions with alarming facts, this is a one-sided portrayal perfect to match the opinion of the disease's denialists and their conspiracy theories. The director guides us and acts as if being a curious person like his viewers are to later become the paladin bearer of the ultimate truth. In his first (and as of now only) film he seems to a be dedicated researcher seeking the truth but only looking at one side of the matter (to deny AIDS existence). Doesn't convince for too long and neither does most of the interviewed people here.

I liked it solely because of its good filmmaking, well-put together without making a giant mess with the information gathered (for a moment I almost trusted some of its false items) and above all because it makes us doubt, it raises deep and still unanswered questions and this can be good sometimes. Of course, he's gonna confuse many people and make a lot of disservice but prudent minds know how to see this in other perspective. I'm just worried with people who know little about the disease and will "buy" the theories presented. This is dangerous, offensive and cruel. The Wikipedia page is far more reliable than this movie, really.

Who's here? The CDC team who investigated the first HIV cases (Doctors James Curran, Harold Jaffe and Don Francis); the controversial Robert Gallo, one of its discovers along with Luc Montagnier, another pioneer who is also here among other medical doctors, patients, regular people who know little about AIDS and "miracle" cases (awfully manipulated by making us see crying parents we're led to believe that the infected baby had died years ago when in fact she was alive as a teenager during the making of the film).

Here's the destruction little by little, the best I could remember: according to what was shown HIV is not of easy transmission; there's always co-factors which are important to dictate if you'll get it or not like the use of poppers; reckless or poor lifestyle; heterosexual transmission is put into jeopardy, as inexistent or rare; if acquired it IS the thing that's gonna kill you (even with the use of medication which prevents its growth). The medication side effects, OK we'll give you that because is truth, AZT as villain (sure, back in the day alone and with no other helper it was a main issue); the inadequacy of tests

  • Western Blot is pointless, confusing. Who do we trust? The rapid
method used in some African countries is ridiculous. And the "perks" of being infected - which I'm not sure if it was real, it was too optimistic - I mean, people were secured homes because they have AIDS? But the medicine is still expensive.

One thing truly amazed me: the charts system used to describe the difference between having AIDS or having an occasional low in the immune system. Several diseases besides HIV/AIDS also causes failure in the immune system, low levels of CD-4 count (immune failure due to stress, most of us have and we get sick.) But according to the 1992 chart (still on use) those drops could be classified as having HIV/AIDS. The thin line used in this criterion is quite intriguing.

It lost great potential when it skimmed the most frightening topic: the role of pharmaceutical companies in developing a cure. They don't want to find it. We'll never find a cure because of reasons. Another downer was an unflattering image of Brazil (and I doubt the man filmed those in here cause we have better places than what was shown. 5th economy of the world, we're not a country of just slums) focusing on poor conditions but the director failed to show our medical program widely acknowledged by the United Nations as an example to the world.

It's reported everywhere that some of the doctors interviewed were taken out of context; one of them easily falls in contradiction three times in less than two minutes. As for the doctors who felt misinterpreted, it's your own fault. Educated, highly paid and cultured experts like you can't afford to not knowing how to explain facts and proofs. The worst was an impatient and snob doctor who refuses to create a image of the virus in a way to show how the virus mutates. "I have more important things to do than to teach you things" he says to which the director inter-cuts with dumbfounded reactions of other doctors who simply can't expose a new image of the virus as if to say all doctors in the world are led to believe such disease exists based on a 30 year-old image, and no new studies were made to corroborate that. But Luc Montagnier, tops it all, and managed to cause a significant damage. In no way he should have said that the body system of a healthy person in contact with someone infected has ways to expel the virus from itself.

Watch it at your own risk but don't accept anything from it. It's not objective and it wants to sell a miracle that the disease doesn't exist. So what on Earth were those news images of people with KS? What about the casualties all these years? 6/10

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