Last week, the UK marked National HIV Testing Week with a record number of tests, largely credited to Russell T Davies’ mini-series, It’s A Sin, which premiered last month.
The Terrence Higgins Trust said there has been a “four-fold increase” on HIV Testing Week stats for previous years, with “free tests being ordered at a faster rate than ever before”. According to the charity, last Monday (February 1) saw 8,200 tests ordered, compared with the previous daily record of 2,800.
Along with high viewing figures for the show – it’s now Channel 4’s most-watched drama series ever – the charity believes that videos spreading awareness about testing has also helped skyrocket the numbers.
Namely from It’s A Sin star Olly Alexander, who urged people to “celebrate our progress in fighting this virus by taking a free test and knowing our status”. In a video shared on Twitter, Alexander talked about the advancement in preventative treatments and testing, and praised charities like Terrence Higgins Trust for their work.
Following the news of the rise in HIV testing, Alexander told BBC Breakfast: “I’m trying not to cry. It’s amazing to see a real-time response to the show. I’m really moved by it.”
It’s A Sin is set during the Aids crisis of the 1980s, and follows a group of friends in London as they navigate the crisis, the rampant homophobia that surrounds it, and the tragic deaths of their peers.
"It's amazing to see real time response to the show"
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 continued, “but it all starts with a test so that you can access the treatment necessary to stay well.”
Look back at Dazed’s op-ed about why It’s A Sin is a timely reminder of the queer chosen family here.