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YouTube Receives Backlash for Age-Restricting an Educational HIV Film

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Recently premiering on YouTube for World AIDS Day, [email protected]: When We Were Boys is an educational short film that tells the story of London’s 1996 Pride celebrations. At the event, 27,000 red balloons were released to represent the number of people living with HIV in England at the time.

Now many are upset that the video was immediately age-restricted after its release, despite it not containing any content that violates YouTube’s community guidelines, according to PinkNews. HIV advocates argue that film is especially valuable to young people.

When We Were Boys also stars It’s a Sin’s Nathaniel Hall (pictured above), who opened up earlier this year about his own experience living with HIV since the age of 16. Hall is also been a vocal advocate of U=U (undetectable equals untransmittable), which means that if one’s viral load is undetectable (the case for most folks taking their meds as prescribed), then HIV cannot be transmitted to a sexual partner, even without a condom.

“I take just one tablet, once a day, it has no side-effects, and I go to the clinic twice a year and that’s it, it’s done,” says Hall says in the film. “But we really shouldn’t underplay the psychological impact of the diagnosis, that’s a hang-up from that stigma that has come from the 1980s and ’90s.”

Director Rob Falconer told PinkNews he was not offered an explanation from YouTube as to why it was restricted from younger viewers. “We don’t know, it might have been the algorithm or a human being,” said Falconer. “It was applied with absolutely no warning in the middle of World AIDS Day, just as it was beginning to move around the world into the U.S. time zones.”

“I don’t think for a moment it was any way intentional,” he added, “but they have failed to take into account the catastrophic consequences of doing something like that and the message it sends out to HIV-positive people around the world…. It simply re-enabled the very stigma that the video is seeking to combat.”

Although YouTube never explained why the video was censored, they did eventually lift the age-restriction. A YouTube spokesperson told PinkNews that the “flagged video was initially age-restricted but upon review this restriction was removed…. We work quickly to review all flagged content, but with millions of hours of video uploaded on YouTube every day, on occasion we make the wrong call.”

The video is now available to viewers of all ages and has been translated into seven different languages. Falconer says the response has been very positive: “It’s extraordinary. It’s overwhelming. The emotional side is clearly very special to people.”

Watch [email protected]: When We Were Boys here:

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