It’s a Sin is a new British pop culture five-part mini-series, recently aired on Channel 4, which has taken the UK by storm.

The acclaimed drama serial has been written and created by Russel T Davies, the man responsible for cult TV series Queer as Folk featuring great British acting talents such as Olly Alexander lead singer of Years and Years, Nathanial Curtis, Omari Douglas, Callum Scott Howells, Neil Patrick Harris, Lydia West, Keely Hawes, Stephen Fry, Shaun Dooley, Tracy- Ann Oberman, Nathaniel Hall.

The series follows three 18-year-olds whose lives are turned upside down upon their arrival in London in 1981 and explores the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United Kingdom, spanning a decade until 1991.

This beautifully captivating and powerful series has welcomely inspired and encouraged more conversations around the HIV epidemic, involving and engaging the British public. It also positively highlights, how things have changed so dramatically since the early 80’s. The story depicts the very painful truth of the many precious lives lost back at the beginning of the epidemic, but now HIV is no longer a death sentence, or as we like to say, “HIV is 3 letters, not a sentence.”.

HIV is now treatable, but only if you know. And the only way to know is to test.

Those who work with the HIV community are extremely grateful for the very talented actors, writers, producers and of course Channel 4 for shining a big stage light on the HIV/AIDS epidemic and providing a new platform for the discussion, education and awareness of HIV treatments and testing into the mainstream.  The launch of It’s a Sin is of course very timely as it coincides with the UK’s National HIV Testing week, which is the flagship annual event run by HIV Prevention England and the Terrence Higgins Trust. This notable annual event promotes regular HIV testing with the aim to reduce the number of undiagnosed and those diagnosed late.

To date, the UK has approximately 105,200 people living with HIV, Of those who know their status, 98% are on treatment and are living long, healthy lives.

The truth of the matter is that there have been such amazing advancements in medication and effective treatment of HIV can now be as simple as taking one pill a day. Those on effective treatment can become ‘undetectable’, which means the virus is supressed to levels so low, that it literally cannot be detected. This means the person’s own health is protected but incredibly, the science has now proven beyond a doubt, that HIV cannot be transmitted to another person, even through unprotected sex, when someone is undetectable.

U=U means Undetectable = Untransmittable.

In the last 10 years organisations such as the Terrence Higgins Trust, National Aids Trust, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and numerous other local and national bodies supporting those living with HIV, have continuously campaigned to raise awareness about U=U and reduce the stigma and fear surrounding the virus. Famous HIV campaigners such as ex – England Rugby talent Gareth Thomas, the late Princess Diana and most recently Harry Duke of Sussex, have been at the forefront and helped in the fight to beat HIV.

HIV prevention is always key in reducing new incidence. PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a course of tablets, similar in approach to the contraceptive pill, which taken before sex can prevent someone from contracting HIV. After long legal challenges, PrEP is now available on the NHS, and of course BioSure changed the face of testing for HIV and made knowing your status a whole lot easier, bringing the BioSURE HIV Self Test to market in 2015, offering you the choice to simply and conveniently at home or wherever else you may choose.

Last year the UK met its 90-90-90 goals, which include by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV knowing their HIV status; 90% of all people with a diagnosed HIV infection receiving sustained antiretroviral treatment and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy being virally suppressed, i.e. undetectable.

However, there is still a way to go to reach the new 2030 goal to end all new HIV transmissions and the crucial milestone of an 80% reduction in transmissions by 2025. The UK still has an estimated 6,600 people living with HIV are undiagnosed. These goals are achievable, but HIV testing must be at the forefront and we all have our part to play!

Public Health England also warn that people undiagnosed late can face an eight-fold increased risk of mortality and there is also a high risk of further new HIV transmissions.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and with reduced and limited access to STI clinic, testing privately at home, is the easiest option and puts you in control. The BioSURE HIV Self Test is widely available, you can order online through the website or alternatively Amazon, Boots or Superdrug and numerous independent pharmacies. You can also contact the Terrence Higgins Trust who are the largest provider of HIV and sexual health services in the UK, running services out of local centres across Great Britain.

We have big hopes for the 2021, that this is the year the people of the UK #TakeControl and #KnowYourStatus.

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