A university professor has been criticised for suggesting to his students that HIV does not cause Aids.
Activists are planning to protest against the screening of a controversial film at University of Brighton on Wednesday, December 12.
Hundreds of students were invited to the event by Dr Karl Cox, who invited them to “find out the truth about HIV”.
The film, House of Numbers, suggests the virus does not cause the killer disease Aids. It has been widely discredited by the scientific community.
Among a number of claims, it suggests blood tests are unreliable, HIV diagnoses are wrong and that the virus is a work of fiction created to sell more medicines.
In Dr Cox’s email invitation, he asked students: “How accurate are HIV tests? Is HIV fact or fiction?”
More than 100 people have signed an online petition calling for the film’s screening to be cancelled. On Facebook, students have organised a non-violent protest to take place during the showing.
Jesse Laffan, a 23-year-old student from Portslade, said the film was “completely misleading”.
He said: “I find this quite affronting, with World Aids Day having been so recent and living in a city where HIV transmission is a real issue.
“I think promoting this is dangerous, especially to young students.”
The film is being shown on University of Brighton premises in conjunction with a charity called the World Foundation for Natural Science.
On its website, the organisation describes its mission as, “healing this world in accord with Natural Law, thus restoring Divine Order on this precious Planet Earth. For only this way real solutions for the challenges man and nature are facing can be found”.
One Aids sufferer from Brighton said Brighton University’s decision to allow Dr Cox to screen the film was “unbelievable”.
Andy – not his real name – said: “Why would they want to teach their students dangerous nonsense which teaches them not to bother taking precautions?
“I’m gobsmacked, to be honest. It’s hard enough to get the message through to young people without them being exposed to stupid films like this.
“The university should cancel the showing immediately.”
A spokesperson for HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We have always had serious concerns about this inaccurate, misleading and irresponsible film.
“That’s why, as the leading HIV and sexual health charity, staff from Terrence Higgins Trust will be on hand after any screening of this film at the university to ensure that the students have access to the facts about HIV.”
A University of Brighton spokesperson said: “Our position is absolutely clear. We regard HIV and Aids as extremely serious matters of concern and we provide our students with advice and we support research into these issues.”
The spokesperson said the university would be reviewing whether or not to allow the film to be shown on university premises.
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