It's A Sin provides human face of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s

EMOTIONAL RIDE: Olly Alexander in It's A Sin, which follows a group of gay friends struggling with the AIDS epidemic in '80s London.
EMOTIONAL RIDE: Olly Alexander in It's A Sin, which follows a group of gay friends struggling with the AIDS epidemic in '80s London.

FOR many Australians their earliest memory of AIDS or HIV were those nightmarish late '80s commercials where the grim reaper knocked over men, women and children with bowling balls of death.

More than 30 years since the terrifying "prevention is the only cure we've got" message was delivered, there still isn't a cure for HIV, but thankfully due to modern medicine, it's not necessarily a death sentence.

However, that's led to AIDS being widely forgotten. The edgy five-part mini-series It's A Sin written by Russel T Davies (Queer As Folk) serves to provide a fictional account of '80s London were the virus ravaged the gay community.

The story follows the ambitious Ritchie (Olly Alexander), who leaves his conservative Isle Of Man home to follow his acting dreams in London; Roscoe (Omari Douglas) an English-Nigerian who is disowned by his family and Colin (Callum Scott Howells), a naive Welsh lad who works in a high-end men's wear shop.

The three become friends and move into a flat, dubbed the "Pink Palace" with mother hen Jill (Lydia West) and Ash (Nathaniel Curtis) and begin living out their hedonistic dreams of parties, music and celebrating their sexuality.

However, when the AIDS epidemic erupts in London they each suffer the pain of loss and discrimination, as they and the wider community fail to understand the illness.

Davies articulates the confusion that surrounded AIDS in the '80s. In one scene Jill destroys a mug used by a friend with AIDS as she's worried it's infectious, while Ritchie initially believes AIDS is a conspiracy created to scare the gay community into turning straight. More harrowing scenes show AIDS sufferers locked up because they're "a threat to the community" or disowned by their families to die alone.

Shame is at the centre of Davies' heart-breaking story, which he delivers with emotional impact.

It's A Sin, streaming on Stan

This story Sin-free reminder of shameful period of recent history first appeared on Newcastle Herald.