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Zack Hudson (played by James Farrar) only recently learned he was going to be a father to Whitney Dean’s (Shona McGarty) baby but he’s set to learn he could have HIV. The storyline comes 30 years after EastEnders first covered HIV in the 1990s.
In upcoming episodes, Zack receives his diagnosis when a former acquaintance, Brett, turns up in Walford and reveals that he has been diagnosed with HIV.
Brett urges Zack to get tested himself and he will be left reflecting on life with the virus.
EastEnders is working closely with Terence Higgins Trust to accurately reflect and raise awareness of HIV.
They will highlight the aftermath of receiving a HIV diagnosis to the treatment options and implications for Zack.
Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust, Ian Green, explained: “It’s been incredible to work with EastEnders on Zack’s story to show people across the UK 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.”
He added: “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 in 2023 and spark conversations in living rooms across the UK.”
Meanwhile, Executive Producer Chris Crenshaw added: “EastEnders has never shied away from covering sensitive issues and Zack’s story is one of these.
“There are still so many myths and disinformation surrounding HIV, so working closely with Terrence Higgins Trust has enabled us to really understand what it is like for those that are diagnosed with HIV and we hope that this storyline will bring more awareness of HIV and what it is like to live with the virus in 2023.”
Next week, viewers will see Zack go into denial after Brett’s revelation and Sharon (Letitia Dean) becomes suspicious when she sees him hanging around.
Meanwhile, Whitney notices Zack isn’t as interested in the ultrasound of their baby as she had hoped.
Things get worse when he drowns his sorrows and he ends up getting drunk and rowing with Whitney.
Zack breaks down but it remains to be seen if he will confide in Whitney or Sharon about his diagnosis.
Will Whitney stand by Zack as he deals with the aftermath of his diagnosis?
EastEnders airs Monday-Thursday on BBC One at 7.30pm.
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