I think it's fair to say that we at The Eddystone Trust binged watched It's A Sin, and like the millions of people who also tuned in we also found the series utterly gripping, heart breaking and nostalgic all in the same breath. To say the show was a brave move by Channel 4 is an understatement.
Never before have we seen a prime time TV show cover themes such as Living with HIV, LGBTQ relationships, sexual health and homophobia in such an honest and candid way. But, despite the shows success we can't help ask whether or not the show was a missed opportunity?
Despite being a fairly accurate depiction of the HIV/Aids Pandemic in the 1980's we can't help but feel that the show could have done something to promote how far we've come in regards to understanding and treating HIV in the years since the pandemic.
Many people diagnosed with HIV can and do live healthy and normal lives with the help of medication. With the right medication someone who is HIV positive can also reduce their viral load to an untransmissible state, meaning that they can no longer pass the virus on via condomless sex (or any means) if they keep up their medication. How many people who watched the show know this? A simple explanation of the U=U (undetectable = untransmissible) message could have gone a long way to overcoming the all too common misnomer that HIV is a 'death sentence'..
That's not to say that HIV is a thing of the past, there are still people and communities that are disproportionately affected by HIV - In particular, men who have sex with men, black African people and Women. Almost half of new diagnoses come from the 'straight' community.
It's hard to be critical of the show given it's brave portrayal of the pandemic, and that is not our intention. But now that the topic of HIV is once again in people's consciousness we hoped it has helped spark a wider conversation that could elevate some of the stigma that was prevalent in It's a Sin that still exists in society today about HIV.
Want to hear more about what we thought of the show? Then listen to James and Tracey review the series in our brand new podcast Colours of Life by clicking the link below.