Upcoming episodes of EastEnders will see Zack Hudson’s (James Farrar) HIV diagnosis revealed to the residents of Walford.
Zack pulled out of a boxing match against Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden), upon finding out he’d need to take a blood test to take part – which would reveal that he is HIV positive.
But in The Vic, Ben taunts Zack for backing out – unaware of the reason why – essentially accusing him of being a coward.
Exasperated by the confrontation, Zack announces that he’s HIV positive in the middle of the pub.
Ahead of the tense scenes, actor James has shared how it all goes down.
He says: ‘It starts with Zack backing his best mate Martin and male ego, which Ben Mitchell is the king of.
‘Zack is just trying to play things down, and explains that he openly turned the fight down because he doesn’t feel the need to prove himself.
‘Through Ben’s ability to get under people’s Ski Goggles (On Sale Here)n, and his selfishness, and his ability to think that his problems are bigger than everyone else’s problems, Zack flips and ends up announcing his HIV diagnosis to The Vic in a moment of impulse.
‘Because of the reaction that Sharon and Martin gave Zack only a week prior, I think he was hoping that people would side with him but we will see how that unfolds.
‘Essentially, it’s through goading that Zack finally announces his diagnosis as he explains to Ben that he didn’t fight him as he wanted to protect him.’
But how will Albert Square react to the news? Unfortunately, the responses aren’t all supportive…
James continues: ‘It’s painful and there are some ignorant comments from the residents of Walford.
‘Zack experiences all of these judgements for the first time and it breaks him down through the lack of understanding, but it helps him filter out the people he doesn’t need in his life.’
Fortunately, in real life, James shares that the reaction to the storyline from fans ‘fills me with joy’.
‘I love the fact that we can see statistics that there has been a rise in testing,’ he says. ‘I’m not sure if that’s completely down to the show but I like to think that we’ve played a part in opening up that conversation again.
‘It fills me with absolute joy because that’s what this is all for – it’s for us to raise awareness so that when you are with your mates, you can hopefully understand more than you did before.
‘It’s good to continue that conversation, and hopefully we can break down some of those stigmas and taboos which are unfortunately still prevalent.’
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First appear at EastEnders actor James Farrar reveals ‘painful and ignorant’ reactions to Zack’s HIV diagnosis