Nathaniel Hall, who plays Donald Bassett in hit Channel 4 drama It's a Sin, has spoken candidly about living with HIV.
Hall is an actor and AIDs activist who was diagnosed with HIV when he was 16, shortly after losing his virginity to an older partner.
In It's a Sin, he plays Ritchie Tozier's first boyfriend. They meet at an audition and quickly become inseparable, until Ritchie notices a brown mole-like mark on Donald's back. Ritchie then ghosts Donald, believing he has Kaposi’s sarcoma, a type of cancer which develops in the latter stages of HIV.
Speaking to Radio 1's Life Hacks, Hall – who's now 34 and from Manchester, where It's a Sin was filmed – explained that he 'didn't tell anyone' when he tested positive for HIV just two weeks before his 17th birthday.
'I didn’t tell my family,' he said. 'I lived with all that shame and all that stigma weighing down very heavy on me.'
Hall said the diagnosis came as a 'wake-up call' for him. 'I’m from a nice, safe, middle-class background.' he explained. 'I was head boy at my school, I was a straight-A student. It was like a slap in the face. It was a wake-up call. All of a sudden I was like a child in an adult’s world.' He now takes antiretroviral tablets once a day.
Shame and disbelief are major themes in It's a Sin, especially when Ritchie is forced to face up to the reality of HIV for the first time after cruelly dumping Donald.
Created by Queer as Folk's Russell T Davies, It's A Sin tells the story of a group of young gay men who move into a London house share with their friend Jill in the 1980s. Their carefree coming-of-age (and identity) is suddenly cut short as the AIDs epidemic begins.
The series has been praised for its unflinching, compassionate and vivid look at the LBGTQ+ scene at the time, along with highlighting the prejudice the gay community faced from wider society. Something that's long been overlooked.
For Hall, the show has been a seminal moment in his career. He shared this tweet back in December, just before the series aired on Channel 4:
As a gay man living with HIV it is an honour to be part of this incredible drama ❤️ https://t.co/UUtmtkV6KL
— Nathaniel J Hall (@NathanielJHall) December 17, 2020
It's A Sin is currently showing on Channel 4 at 9pm on Fridays - or you can stream all five episodes on All4 now.
For help, support and more information on HIV and AIDs, visit The Terence Higgins Trust.
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