Out singer-actor Olly Alexander has said that he was “taken aback” to learn many young people were unaware of the extent of the AIDS crisis.

Alexander plays Ritchie in HBO Max's It's A Sin from Russell T. Davies (Queer as Folk, UK). The series follows three friends as they confront the AIDS epidemic from its start in the 1980s.

(Related: Russell T. Davies says he omitted HIV/AIDS from Queer as Folk on purpose.)

Speaking with Cosmopolitan, Alexander said that the AIDS crisis was “brushed under the carpet.”

"I’ve seen a lot of different responses,” Alexander said. “Quite a few from younger people that had no idea – 18-year-olds that had no idea that this happened to a community not that long ago.”

"It set me aback because I hadn't thought about that response, but it totally makes sense. You're watching a show set not that long ago. And so there are some people who are shocked and can't believe it. But I've also had that response from older people who were there at the time who didn't know what was going on.”

“So much of this happened in silence and was brushed under the carpet. And this isn't taught in schools. It would make everybody's lives better, and help understand each other better, if queer history [was covered]. How HIV first appeared and what happened in the 80s is a really important part of that. If there’s something you can do to help all the kids, why wouldn’t you do it?” he said.

Alexander, 30, recently released his new single “Starstruck.”