"With a specifically British inflection, (Russell T.) Davies vividly evokes a climate of fear that saw gay men painted as pitiful victims, or worse, as potential killers capable of spreading the virus into the 'general population' via the blood supply or continued sexual activity," says Brian Mullin of Davies' limited series. "Though many groups were and remain affected by the virus, gay men were singled out in the press and forever associated with it. Queer British filmmaker Stuart Marshall identified the new and harmful media image of the gay 'AIDS victim' in a 1990 essay: 'the object of pity, scorn or contempt who mumbles in a dark corner about his regrets, his fears, the dreadful price he has paid for his sexual freedom and his inevitable and imminent demise.' Watching Davies’ series more than 30 years later, as a person living with HIV myself, I see troubling vestiges of the same moralism: Certain tropes may have mutated since the days when headlines shouted 'Britain Threatened by Gay Plague,' but they are no less pernicious for being less obvious or for coming from the pen of a gay creator. In It’s a Sin, structures of blame and mysteries of transmission drive the narrative, recalling the sensational (and inaccurate) notion, at the center of gay journalist Randy Shilts’ bestselling AIDS history And the Band Played On, that the plague in the U.S. could be traced back to a sexually active gay flight attendant known as 'Patient Zero.' This becomes apparent in the third episode when the innocent, seemingly virginal Colin (Callum Scott Howells) is mysteriously struck down with AIDS-related illness, and Davies’ script fixates on the question of how Colin contracted HIV. The identity of his sole sexual partner is revealed as a shocking plot twist through flashbacks of their sex, distastefully intercut with shots of the dying boy. Davies and his editor bring Colin’s story full circle, reducing him to one type of 'AIDS victim': the innocent naif, doomed from his first sexual encounter. As the series proceeds, an economy of pleasure paid for by death recurs in the script. We watch the protagonist, Ritchie (Olly Alexander), joyously bonk half of London, only to see his sexual enthusiasm grow more ominous as the epidemic advances. Like Colin, he too regresses, first running from the reality of his HIV diagnosis back home to the Isle of Wight, an abject figure begging his (straight) high school crush for oral sex: 'You could just lie back and close your eyes.' Libertine Ritchie becomes the other side of the 'AIDS victim' coin, lashing himself for his compulsive sexual behavior. By the time he’s in the hospital, Ritchie’s internalized so much homophobia that he implicates himself as his own Patient Zero for continuing, pathologically, to have unprotected sex: 'I knew it was wrong and I kept on doing it. I wonder how many I killed?' These two boys represent the sum total of people with AIDS to whom Davies grants major plotlines."