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80’s pop legends Jimmy Somerville and Erasure have got together to lend their talent to 27000@25: When We Were Boys, a music video like nothing you’ve ever seen before with a forceful message that sticks two fingers up to the stigmatisation of people with HIV or AIDS. 

The unusual title harks back to Pride in 1996 (when Pride was actually good) when HIV charity Crusaid released 27,000 red balloons, representing everyone in the UK living with HIV. The original version, performed at the time by Jimmy Somerville, Holly Johnson and Sheila Smith, was screened to 160,000 and followed the journey of a young man in the 90s trying to get his head around his HIV+ diagnosis.

This latest version includes new music from Andy Bell and Vince Clarke of Erasure; Andy Bell commented, “Apart from being very close to my heart, it is also of historical importance and significance from a worldwide human rights perspective.” 

The video also features actor Nathaniel Hall, best known for his role in Channel 4’s It’s A Sin, who was diagnosed HIV+ at the age of 16.

The result of this latest collaboration is at once nostalgic and uplifting but, as you would expect, tinged with regret and anger. Writing this on World AIDS Day, I find myself – as I do every year on 1 December – thinking about all the friends I lost to this most pernicious of viruses, what they had to go through and what they might have become. This video, which is available in seven languages, is available to watch on Erasure’s YouTube channel right here but you will need to prove your age as YouTube have decided that a video featuring under-18s with HIV should not be shown to, er, under-18s.

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Rob Harkavy

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