An upcoming episode of EastEnders will see Zack Hudson torn with revealing his HIV diagnosis after sharing a kiss with a devasted Whitney Dean.
Earlier this year, James Farrar’s Zack discovered he was HIV positive after an old friend arrived at the fictional East London borough with the devastating news of his own diagnosis.
Since then, Zack and his partner Whitney, played by gospel singer and actress Shona McGarty, sadly lost their baby, Peach, after doctors revealed she had Edwards' Syndrome and her parents were forced to terminate the pregnancy.
Whitney, Zack and fans at home were saddened by the tragic news, and recent episodes have only grown more crippling as Zack grapples with the idea of telling his girlfriend about his HIV.
In spoilers for next week’s episodes, Martin Fowler, played by Strictly Come Dancing’s James Bye, and Sharon Watts, played by Letitia Dean, sit down with Zack to console him and ensure he’s staying strong for Whitney.
Zack is inspired to plant a tree for his late daughter after Martin explains that Davood Ghadami’s Kush Kazemi planted a tree for his late son, Zaair.
While Whitney initially refuses to attend, she eventually has a change of heart and spends some alone time at the tree with Zack.
The touching moment brings them closer as they share a kiss, with Zack then pulling away as he tries to find the words to reveal his own health news.
Whitney is left feeling rejected as her partner is pushed towards honesty by those in the know about his diagnosis.
Speaking about the heartbreaking storyline, executive producer Chris Clenshaw shared: "It was imperative for us to work alongside Antenatal Results and Choices and SOFT UK to accurately present, and sensitively portray, such an emotional storyline that many parents may relate to.
"Shona and James’ performances have thoughtfully portrayed the realities of the diagnosis and the decision making process with compassion and understanding.
"We hope that this story resonates with the audience, and that we represent it as sensitively, and as accurately as possible," he added.
On Zack’s HIV storyline, Chris also said : “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.”
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