Time Travel and HIV Tests in the Movie ‘House of Numbers’

By: Myles Power Edited by: Peter & Hannah

I recently watched the AIDS denialist film ‘House of Numbers’ for a second time, to see if I had missed anything. As it turns out, I did miss something upon my first viewing. One of the people featured in the movie either has a super power, or is a time lord. Christine Maggiore (a prominent AIDS denier who died of AIDS before House of Numbers was released) has the ability to travel through time!!! She showed us an example of her using this power whilst talking about her experiences with various HIV tests.

She says that in 1992 she got tested for HIV as a matter of “social responsibility” and was “shocked and devastated and horrified when the results came back positive” – as we all would be. She later went on to say that a week later, she took the results of the test to an AIDS specialist who said, “This isn’t a positive test. I don’t know what this test means." At the same time that she is saying this, we are shown her results, and we can see that samples were collected from Christine on 02/24/92 (24/02/92 for everyone in the UK who knows how to write a date correctly), and that she was tested using two different methods. The first was an ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) screening test for HIV antibodies – in which she tested positive. The second test was a Western blot, which looks for specific HIV proteins within a HIV-infected cell. Christine tested positive for P24 (HIV capsize protein) and gp120/160 (HIV envelope glycoprotein and its un-cleaved precursor) but not for any other bands. A possible reason for why no other bands were detected is that Christine could have been recently infected with HIV and this test was taken before the full range of antibodies had developed. I flat out do not believe that an AIDS specialist would not know what this means – especially considering directly underneath, it it tells you the criteria for a test result to be HIV positive.

Christine Maggiore HIV results 4
Screen capture of Christine first HIV test (24/02/92)

Christine then tells us that she decided to take the test again and, surprisingly to her, it came back marked “indeterminate”. So how can the same test have different results? They don’t. They have the same results, they are just interpreted differently. The second Western blot reported a positive result for GAG (p55 or p24 or p18) and ENV (gp160 or gp120 or gp41) proteins but not for POL (p64 or p51 or p32) proteins just like the first one. Even though there is no date on this test, the results of this Western blot are consistent with someone who has recently been infected.  Therefore, you can conclude that it was taken soon after the first one – before the full range of antibodies had developed. This is why it recommends that anyone with an indeterminate result should be re-tested in 3-6 months, when POL proteins can be detected and HIV can truly be 100% verified.

Christine Maggiore HIV results 3

Screen capture of Christine second HIV (unknown date but soon after first one)

Next we are told that when faced with a decision to wait six weeks or to get tested right away, Christine opted for the latter; this time the test came back positive. This is the first time we see Christine’s time travelling capability, as we know she first tested positive in February ’92, and was given the indeterminate result soon after. She says that she did not want to wait six weeks to be retested, but the new positive result we are shown is dated 09/23/93 (23/09/93 for logical people) – 19 months after the original. The results are positive for all 8 bands, which is an unequivocal positive result, and entirely consistent with someone who has been infected for a relatively large amount of time.

Christine Maggiore HIV results 2

Screen capture of Christine third HIV test (23/09/93)

“Took it again, came back negative”, says Christine, who then went back in time to the 9th August 1993 to take the test again – this time getting a negative result. The truth is that there is not a lot of information on this picture, and we don’t even know what type of test was used. It is entirely possible that Christine was given a false negative from a less reliable and inaccurate test. However, I personally believe there is something more deceitful gong on here. Under where it says ‘HIV’ in the image, there are random black dots.  This leads me to suspect that this image has been cropped. Without knowing the method with which she was tested and without having access to the full (and possibly unaltered) document, this evidence can’t be used in determining Christine’s HIV status.

Christine Maggiore HIV results 1

Screen capture of Christine fourth HIV test (09/08/93)

Christine then jumps forward in time to 6 days after her third test (29-SEP-1993) and – low and behold – the result is positive again. It is normal practice to immediately repeat a positive HIV test in order to exclude human or laboratory errors, and to prove the presence of the virus beyond any reasonable doubt.  It even says that it is a confirmation test.

Christine Maggiore HIV results 5

Screen capture of Christine fifth HIV test (29/09/93)

In conclusion, with the exception of the August 1993 result (which I believe has been altered and lacks vital information), all Christine’s results are consistent with someone who has been infected with HIV.  As much as I want to believe that there are people out there who have time travelling powers, or own a TARDIS, I know that it is most likely that Christine is lying about the chronological order of testing so as to cast a shadow on the tests; and that the director of the film (Brent Leung) must have been aware of the dates of these tests, but is more than happy with her misleading his audience.

Also, what the fuck is with the clip crammed in the middle where Brent says, “Since a false positive looks like a true positive, how can you distinguish whether it truly is a positive or negative?” Honestly, that is a new level of stupidity. Well done Brent, well done.

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About Myles Power (554 Articles)
My name is Myles Power, and I run the educational YouTube channel, powerm1985. I spend what little free time I have sharing my love of SCIENCE! through home experiments, visiting sites of scientific interest, and angrily ranting at pseudoscience proponents. I am also one of the founding members of the podcast 'The League of Nerds' - which I co-host with James from 'The History of Infection'.

7 Comments on Time Travel and HIV Tests in the Movie ‘House of Numbers’

  1. …bored.

    snore.

    Like

  2. The fourth “non-reactive” test was probably an HIV p24 antigen test, not a diagnostic antibody test. The dots after the “HIV” on the result slip look to me like someone has tried to erase some text to pretend that it was a diagnostic antibody test.

    Back in 1993, p24 antigen tests were used for routine monitoring of HIV infection, in the same way viral load tests are used today. Most people with chronic HIV infection do not have detectable p24 antigen on these tests, because viral replication is relatively low, and nearly all the p24 in the plasma is bound to antibodies and is thus invisible to the test. However, if p24 antigen does suddenly become detectable again this is an indication of increasing viral replication and predicts disease progression.

    Viral load tests are a more accurate measure of viral replication, and these replaced the p24 antigen tests around 1996.

    Read in the correct sequence, Maggiore’s HIV antibody tests (ELISA and Western Blots) are typical of someone infected with HIV a couple of months before she began testing in February 1992.

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  3. Christing Maggiore’s “evidence” was very selectively furnished. Due to her unscientific ideology, her daughter died of AIDS and a few years later, so did she. Personally, I would rather have HIV infection and use the very successful western meds to life a normal, long life than to have suffered through the illness and death they both did. My goodness, how fearful does someone need to be of this label to prefer death?!

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  4. ….Likewise, the more recent denialists Kim Bannon, Karri Stokely and “Gos” are dead too. What a joke!

    Like

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