The University of Brighton has cancelled the screening of a film which claims the HIV virus does not cause AIDS after a student backlash.

The documentary, House of Numbers, has been dismissed by academics and health experts worldwide as AIDS denialist propaganda.

According to the Argus newspaper, University of Brighton computing and mathematics lecturer Dr Karl Cox suggested to his students that HIV does not lead to AIDS, and invited them to “find out the truth about HIV” by watching the 2009 film directed by Brent Leung.

In the film, Leung interviews a range of scientists and AIDS denialists.

Among a number of false 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.

Jesse Laffan, a 23-year-old University of Brighton student, said the film, which was due to be screened today (12 December), is “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”.

In a statement, HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We have always had serious concerns about this inaccurate, misleading and irresponsible film”.

A spokesman for the University of Brighton said: “The screening of this film was organised by an individual member of university staff who has no academic or professional expertise in health sciences.

“Our position is clear: We regard HIV and AIDS as extremely serious matters of concern; we provide our students with advice and we support research concerning these issues.”

A person with AIDS has an immune system so weakened by HIV that the person usually becomes sick from one of several opportunistic infections or cancers.