CHANNEL 4 AND ALL 4 has recently released a five part ptogramme called IT’S A SIN.

It is a very moving and heart-wrenching look at the dawn of AIDS / HIV in 1981.

I watched all five parts of the series on Saturday evening.

It brought me right back to the 1980s in Belfast when I found myself ministering to several young men in the AIDS ward at Belvoir Park Hospital, Belfast.

I loked after two young nen especialky who were dying – Tony in his 30s, a brilliant actor and Jim in his 20s who went on to be a barman in London.

At that time it was a little understood illness and people thought you could contract it by drinking from a cup an AIDS patient had drunk from before you.

When we were visiting and ministering these patients we were made to dress up almost in space suits.

Everybody was really scared.

One of the big side effects then affecting AIDS patience was a cancer of the skin and lymph nodes calked KAPOSI’S SARCOMA


Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) is a type of cancer that can form masses in the skinlymph nodes, or other organs. The skin lesions are usually purple in color.They can occur singly or in a limited area, or may be widespread. It may worsen either gradually or quickly.Lesions may be flat or raised.  Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8) is found in the lesions of all those who are affected. Risk factors include poor immune function, either as a result of disease or specific medications, and chronic lymphedema.

The patients I looked after had KS.

They suffered horribly, phycically, in the last months abd days of their lives.

They also suffered terribly from the mental and emotional points of view and were cobsidered to be modern day lepers by ignorance people.


The situation today is totally changed. Most people who contract HIV never go on to develooe AIDS.

This is mainly down to the drugs call ANTIRETROVIRALS.

Antiretrovirals (ARVs) are the cornerstone of HIV/AIDS management, as there is currently no cure nor vaccine available for HIV. If an individual with a non-resistant strain of HIV takes the appropriate antiretroviral treatment as directed, the replication of HIV will be effectively suppressed in about 80% of cases. Some individuals may have trouble tolerating ARV treatment due to side effects, or they may not work effectively for that individual, requiring them to change to a second- or third-line treatment regimen. If individuals do not take the medication as directed (for example, taking it occasionally or intermittently), it can increase the likelihood of resistance, where the HIV strain adapts to the treatment and make ARV medications ineffective.

ARVs have been consistently proven to reduce death due to HIV/AIDS and to reduce the development of AIDS-defining conditions. These AIDS-defining conditions are a range of infections, cancers and illnesses that can occur due to advanced stages of HIV infection. An ART regimen should be selected by a specialist doctor in consultation with the individual who has HIV. This ensures that ARV treatments are personalised to the individuals’ HIV strain (and any resistance it may have), as well as considering treatment effectiveness, toxicity, possible side effects, tolerability, dosing frequency, interactions with other medications or illnesses, financial cost and individual preferences.

The vast majority of patients who faithfully take their ARV’s will NEVER develope AIDS and will like everyone else into their 80s or 90s abd die of the things that kill everyone else – heart attacks, strokes, cancer etc.


When a patient is properly taking their ARVs and are what is called: “undetectable” (tests cannot trace any HIV in their blood) they cannot pass HIV to anyone else.



Today, about 1.1 million people in the US are living with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Every year, almost 40,000 people are diagnosed with HIV. A diagnosis of HIV was once presumed to be fatal, and many lived in fear of transmitting the virus to others. This contributed to decades of stigma for those living with HIV.

What is the U=U campaign?

U=U means “undetectable equals untransmittable.” More specifically, it means that people living with HIV who have an undetectable level of virus in their blood due to treatment are unable to transmit the virus to others.

The U=U campaign hopes to spread awareness that medications for HIV are extremely effective. If you are a person living with HIV and the virus level in your blood is suppressed by effective treatment, you cannot pass on the virus to others.


Many priests and religious are living with HIV.

Many died with AIDS before ARVs.

I dont think we have the real figures because priests and religioys with HIV keep it hidden.

Many priests are secretly living with HIV.

Some priests have HIV, dont know it, and are having unprotected sex!

25% of the people with HIV in Northern Ireland have it and dont know!

I personally know priests with HIV.

ITS A SIN reminds us of what people suffered in the past.

Its a riveting and must see watch.

Thank God things have improved so much.

Quite literally, diabetes is now a more problematic disease than HIV.