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The Other Side of AIDS
2004 - PG - 86 Mins.
Director: Robin Scovill
Producer: Robin Scovill
Starring: Christine Maggiore, Kary Mullis, Peter Duesberg, David Rasnick
Review by: Greg Ursic
Official Site: www.theothersideofaids.com
   
Christine Maggiore was devastated after testing HIV positive over a decade ago as the diagnosis was considered a death sentence. Like many others, Maggiore prepared to die but soon discovered that there were people who were living healthy lives a decade after their initial diagnosis and without the “benefit” of drugs. Together with her husband Robin Scovill they began to examine the hard facts about HIV infection and AIDS, and discovered a pattern of contradictions from diagnosis to treatment.

There is no denying that many who are HIV positive die, but given prevailing beliefs, psychiatrist Michael Ellner isn’t surprised. He uses the term the “the AIDS Zone” to explain why so many people have died soon after their diagnosis and uses the analogy of cancer patients: upon hearing the news that they have cancer, many patients experience a state of extreme emotional distress, stop eating, and their health rapidly declines, and they often die long before the cancer kills them. Indeed several of the interviewees note that preparing to die is much easier: you can count on the collective comfort of your peers, and the government will cover your medical costs, and support you. People like Maggiore who, after testing positive, pledge to fight the disease are ridiculed and denounced as being in denial. Many feel that their HIV status is itself questionable.

HIV tests – which look for reactions to nonspecific antibodies - can yield false positives if the subject has one of several conditions including a cold, flu, or happens to be pregnant. More surprising is the revelation that scientists have never found the actual virus in a human being. Further confounding matters is that fact that there is still no globally accepted standard for a diagnosis of AIDS: while someone whose T-cell count drops below 200 has AIDS according to the U.S. definition, they would not Canada , which skews reporting results. In addition the list of “defining illnesses” – 25 not including associating conditions – is quite varied, and flexible: one subject recalls the case of a friend who died of a heart attack, yet his death was listed as “complications due to AIDS.” As one researcher notes, not since the medical community abandoned the notion of demonic possession as a diagnosis has such a panoply of symptoms been ascribed to a single cause. The treatments used in the fight against AIDS raise just as many questions.

The drug “cocktails” now in vogue in AIDS treatment are very potent and don’t discriminate, devastating healthy cells in the process. Studies however have yet to prove their efficacy in stemming the disease, and the implications of long term use are unknown. The potential side effects range from mild - nausea and diarrhea – to lethal: a recent study noted that the majority of AIDS patients died due to liver failure, something which has never been listed as a symptom of AIDS. As one scientist notes, it’s like hunting rabbits with nukes. How is it then that this news has never been made public? Peter Duesberg may have the answer.

Duesberg, a renowned virologist at UCal Berkley was considered the authority in his field in the 80’s. All that changed when he challenged conventional wisdom and suggested that HIV might not cause AIDS. The response was swift: Duesberg became a pariah in the scientific community, losing his lab and funding. In spite of AIDS researchers like Mark Weinberg the McGill professor who feels that countries should amend their constitutions so that AIDS ‘dissidents’ are fired and charged with endangerment, Duesberg refuses to be muzzled. Other’s like Karey Mullis, a Nobel laureate in chemistry have provided fodder for Duseberg’s hypothesis: after a decade-long search Mullis was unable to unearth a single study that demonstrated a definitive link between HIV and AIDS. In addition the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis counts over a 1000 members drawn from the medical and scientific community.

This documentary will surely prove to be controversial, indeed many will view it as nothing less than scientific heresy. Scovill is careful however not to draw simple conclusions, presents solid arguments and most importantly asks viewers to examine the evidence for themselves. After two decades, $120 billion spent on research, and no concrete answers, maybe it’s time for a new set of questions.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant.
  4.5 out of 5 stars

 
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