EastEnders set to include HIV storyline next week
"Myths about HIV are still held by far too many people."
In its 37 -year-long history, English soap opera EastEnders has incorporated a number of serious issues that affect many people into its storylines, and now it plans on dispelling stigma surround HIV.
The show will work in conjunction with the Terrence Higgins Trust on an upcoming storyline which sees Zack Hudson (James Farrar) receive a HIV+ diagnosis.
The storyline will start this week, and it aims to show the reality that a HIV diagnosis is no longer the life sentence it was once considered.
Speaking ahead of it, Ian Green of the Terrence Higgins Trust said: "It’s been incredible to work with EastEnders on Zack’s story to show people that an HIV diagnosis doesn’t have to stop you from living life to the fullest.
"During the height of the HIV epidemic in the 1990s, we worked with EastEnders on Mark Fowler’s story to ensure HIV was portrayed accurately on screen.
"Mark was the first mainstream British TV character to be diagnosed with HIV. His story was viewed by millions and helped change attitudes about the virus when fear and misinformation was rife.
#HIV: when it's undetectable, it's untransmittable.
Learn more: https://t.co/UHNE7cdRLx pic.twitter.com/yvc7HNpK9k
— HIV Ireland (@HIVIreland) December 11, 2022
"Over 30 years on from Mark’s storyline and sadly myths about HIV are still held by far too many people.
"The incredible progress we’ve made around HIV means people on effective HIV treatment can’t pass on the virus and can have a normal lifespan."
He added that he hopes Zack's story will "educate viewers on the reality of HIV in 2023".
Medical advancements have changed how people can now live with HIV, though harmful myths and stigma remains. Those who are on effective treatment have what's known as "undetectable viral load", and this means that the risk of passing HIV on through sex is zero.
For more information about HIV, or to arrange a test, head to HIV Ireland's official website.