The five-part British miniseries It’s a Sin comes to our television screens on February 18, 2021. It tells the story of five young people living and loving in the 1980s, at the dawn of the HIV epidemic. Described as heartbreaking but with humour and humanity at its heart, the miniseries allows us to mourn the loss and celebrate the lives of some of the early heroes in the fight against HIV.

Watch It’s a Sin in Canada on Amazon Prime Video (in the U.S., it’s on HBO Max). 

How TV can change conversations 
For those of us working in Ontario’s HIV response, It’s a Sin provides us with an opportunity to use the show as a springboard for conversations about HIV today. It opens up new opportunities to talk in our communities and through our social media channels about how ever-improving HIV treatment (since the It’s a Sin days) has revolutionized the outlook for people living with HIV. How, unlike for the young men in the series, modern treatment enables most people with HIV to live long and healthy lives. How those on effective treatment can’t pass on HIV to their sexual partners. How there is a pill (PrEP) to prevent HIV. And, importantly, why it’s crucial to know your status by getting tested regularly.

The fight against HIV has always been just that: a fight 
Lives were saved by those who wouldn’t be silenced. And while we have come a long way, HIV isn’t over, neither in Canada nor globally. Today our fight is different. We fight for improved access to treatment. We fight for an intersectional and equitable HIV response and to reduce barriers to quality health care. We fight against the stigma and discrimination that can be a barrier to people getting tested and starting and staying on treatment. 

We’ve come a long way since the devastation of the 1980s, but too many people haven’t been paying attention. It’s a Sin gives us another opportunity to speak loudly and clearly about all of these issues, to complement our messages about how HIV has changed and the work that remains to be done.

John McCullagh
Co-Chair, OAN Board of Directors