Channel 4 drama It’s a Sin boosts HIV testing figures

Russell T Davies’ potent drama follows the story of AIDS in the 1980s, charting the joy and heartbreak of a group of friends across a decade in which everything changed.

The drama’s broadcast coincided with National HIV Testing Week (1-7 February) and data provided by HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, shows HIV tests being ordered at a faster rate than ever before.

“It’s A Sin has had an amazing impact and I’m thrilled the series has been so successful. The series examines a time in our history 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.

“You can now live a long, healthy life with HIV and effective treatment means you won’t pass on the virus to anyone else. We’ve seen the ‘It’s A Sin effect’ on National HIV Testing Week with tests being ordered at a faster rate than ever before off the back of the series. That’s a brilliant legacy for the series.” – Ian Green, Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust

On the first day of National HIV Testing Week orders of HIV tests more than tripled compared to the charity’s previous biggest day of orders. Across the week over 17k orders of HIV tests were placed – more than double the number ordered during the previous National HIV Testing Week (8.2k).

The charity’s helpline saw a 30% increase in calls the day after It’s a Sin launched whilst visits to their website have more than doubled, Channel 4 note.

Sales of Philip Normal’s It’s a Sin inspired ‘La.’ t-shirt have raised over £250,000 for the charity.

“It’s thrilling that It’s a Sin has touched so many people in in such a powerful way. It’s a wonderful example of how great television can emotionally engage millions of people and leave a real legacy of positive change – just what Channel 4 is there for.” – Ian Katz, Chief Content Officer, Channel 4

As well as driving up testing figures, It’s A Sin proved popular in the ratings for Channel 4 with an average of 2.3m viewers per episode at 9pm on Friday nights between 22 January and 19 February. The debut episode was the broadcaster’s biggest drama launch in three years among 16-34s (18.4% share).

The series is also, according to Sky TV and Virgin, proving popular via All 4 with over 18 million views.

Medical advice was sought from the British HIV Association (BHIVA) during the making of the series, with feedback from a senior doctor who worked on the first specialist HIV ward at Middlesex Hospital.

“Thanks to ‘It’s a Sin,’ HIV is a hot conversational topic for a mainstream audience and, for many, for the first time! This gives a huge opportunity to communicate the facts about HIV today through popular media.” – Dr Laura Waters, BHIVA Chair

All five episodes can be found on All 4 here.

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