London Film Festival Cancels Controversial AIDS Denialist Documentary

"An HIV-positive test result can be caused by many factors, from recreational drugs to pregnancy, leading to so much inappropriate treatment."

After much criticism, the London International Film Festival (LIFF) has cancelled an upcoming screening of Positive Hell, a documentary that refutes much of what is understood about HIV/AIDS.

Directed by filmmaker Andi Reiss, the half-hour film is the work of journalist Joan Shenton, a noted UK AIDS “dissenter” who disputes the idea that HIV causes AIDS, despite decades of research and testing.

Hell introduces us to five individuals who claim they’ve been HIV-positive for decades and remain healthy despite eschewing conventional treatment.

Positive Hell
Positive Hell

Shenton’s book on the same topic, Positively False: Exposing the Myths around HIV and AIDS, was originally published in 1998 and updated and republished last year.

Positively False and Positive Hell together present a damning indictment of the orthodox approach to HIV and AIDS, in which a relatively quick, questionable diagnosis can lead to a lifetime of mental and physical anguish,” say Shenton in a press release.

“Had people not taken that test, so many would have gone on to live utterly normal lives.”

Shenton, like many AIDS denialists, maintains the millions who have died of AIDS-related illnesses since the early ‘80s actually succumbed to other diseases.

“Science has still not produced any vaccine or other cure, nor proven that a retrovirus called HIV is the cause of the various old, known diseases lumped together under the name AIDS,” she maintains.

“As our film now shows, many who were diagnosed and who rejected the orthodoxy and the treatment, went on to experience decades of normal life. An HIV-positive test result can be caused by many factors, from recreational drugs to pregnancy, leading to so much inappropriate treatment.”

hiv aids drugs

On Facebook, trailblazing AIDS activist Pete Staley called the cancellation a victory for science over “gullible film-festival organizers.”

“[They] would NEVER schedule a documentary denying the Holocaust, or denying the truth around climate change,” he wrote. “Why the f*ck are they so casual about shitting on 35 years of AIDS activism, and the courageous lives of 30 million people currently living with HIV?”

Positive Hell’ was originally slated to be shown on April 17 alongside Reiss’ Sillhouette Secrets. News of the cancellation comes barely a week after the Tribeca Film Festival nixed a screening of the anti-vaccination doc Vaxxed: From Coverup to Catastrophe.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.