HIV/sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) has confirmed it is working with BBC’s EastEnders to develop a major new storyline, which will see character Zack Hudson (James Farrar) diagnosed with HIV 30 years after the seminal Mark Fowler storyline.
THT said in a social media post: “It has been incredible to work with BBC EastEnders on this storyline to educate viewers on what it means to live with HIV in 2023.”
Zack is to receive the diagnosis this month when a former acquaintance turns up in Walford and reveals that he has been diagnosed with HIV and urges Zack to get tested.
BBC EastEnders will explore the aftermath of receiving a HIV diagnosis, and how Zack copes in the immediate days and weeks.
Ian Green, THT’s CEO, said: “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.”
“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.”
“We hope that Zack’s storyline will educate viewers on the reality of HIV and spark conversations in living rooms across the UK.”