Out writer Russell T. Davies, creator of the gay drama Queer as Folk, has said that he omitted HIV/AIDS from the series on purpose.

Queer as Folk had two seasons on Channel 4. It inspired the Showtime series by the same name, which ran for five seasons.

In an op-ed for the Guardian, Davies said that it wasn't an accident that the words HIV and AIDS were never spoken on the television show.

“[A]fter I'd invented a raft of gay characters for various soaps – a lesbian vicar, schoolboy lovers, a gay barman in 1920 – I came to invent Queer as Folk in 1999, Britain's first gay drama,” Davies wrote. “And the words HIV and Aids were said … not once.”

“That was quite a press launch. The rage, the shouting! Two hundred journalists in full pomp. The straight press were as hostile as you’d expect, but the gay press were especially furious because we had no condoms, no warnings, no messages on screen. Well, yes, tough. Because by that stage, in 1999, I refused to let our lives be defined by disease. So I excluded it on purpose. The omission of Aids was a statement in itself, and it was the right thing to do.”

“In truth, the virus does tick away in the background of QAF. There are charity nights, a fleeting mention of a dead friend, and in one episode, a character has a one-night stand which results in his death. It’s caused by an overdose, but the man he hooks up with is called Harvey. I said to the producer, Nicola Shindler, 'Harvey? D’you get it? Har-vee, like HIV.' She said, 'Don’t be so pretentious. Never tell anyone that,'” he wrote.

Davies' latest project, It's a Sin, looks at the horrible toll the epidemic took on the LGBT community through the lives of three friends. In a teaser clip from the show, Olly Alexander's character says he doesn't believe in the “gay cancer” because he's not stupid.

(Related: First look: Russell T. Davies' AIDS drama, starring Olly Alexander, coming to HBO Max.)

The five-part drama set in the 1980s will air later this year on Channel 4 in the UK and HBO Max in the United States.