It’s a blessing!
The U.K. has recently experienced a record number of HIV tests and many are attributing it to a popular drama about the AIDS epidemic. The Terrence Higgins Trust shared on Monday, February 1, that there has been a “four-fold increase” on HIV Testing Week stats compared to earlier years. Specifically, 8,200 tests were ordered compared to the previous record of 2,800.
Again, many are crediting this change to a show. They are praising It’s a Sin, which is Channel 4’s most-watched drama series ever. Plus, videos from the show or videos of the cast, like lead star Olly Alexander, talking about awareness also helped.
“Celebrate our progress in fighting this virus by taking a free test and knowing our status,” Alexander said in a Twitter video to promote testing.
it's national HIV testing week!! let's celebrate our progress in fighting this virus by taking a free test and knowing our status. Go check @THTorguk for more info✨🌈 #nationalhivtestingweek #ItsASin https://t.co/FoPsojEESv pic.twitter.com/Uj7tt4iRuc
— olly alexander ✨ (@alexander_olly) February 1, 2021
After hearing the news of the increased test numbers, Olly Alexander told BBC Breakfast that he’s overjoyed to the point of tears.
“I’m trying not to cry. It’s amazing to see a real-time response to the show,” he said. “I’m really moved by it.”
"It's amazing to see real time response to the show"
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) February 5, 2021
It’s A Sin, which premiered last month and was created by Queer As Folk creator Russell T. Davies, followed Londoners as the disease started to pick up within the gay community.
A description of the show goes as follows:
“Ritchie, Roscoe and Colin are young lads, strangers at first, leaving home at 18 and heading off to London in 1981 with hope and ambition and joy… and walking straight into a plague that most of the world ignores. Year by year, episode by episode, their lives change, as the mystery of a new virus starts as a rumour, then a threat, then a terror, and then something that binds them together in the fight. It’s the story of their friends, lovers and families too, especially Jill, the girl who loves them and helps them, and galvanises them in the battles to come. Together they will endure the horror of the epidemic, the pain of rejection and the prejudices that gay men faced throughout the decade.”
Speaking to The Tab, a spokesperson for Terrence Higgins Trust said: “It’s A Sin remembers a time in our history that we must never forget – when people were dying of a mystery illness and we didn’t know why. But it’s also important that everyone knows how much HIV has changed since then, thanks to massive improvements in preventing, testing for, and treating HIV. The Aids of It’s A Sin is not the same as HIV in the UK today.”
“You can live a long, healthy life with HIV,” the spokesperson added, “but it all starts with a test so that you can access the treatment necessary to stay well.”
Again, It’s A Sin has already aired on Channel 4 in the U.K. For any potential U.S. fans, you can start watching the show when it appears on HBO Max on February 18.