Hollyoaks' Ste Hay is to be diagnosed HIV positive after having unprotected sex with a stranger.
The Channel 4 soap is to work with sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust on the storyline - the first time a gay character in a British soap is to be shown living with HIV.
Kieron Richardson (opens in new tab), who plays Ste and who came out publicly in 2010, told The Guardian: "My first HIV test was after one of my first gay sexual experiences. I was a bit stupid and had to get fully checked out and one of the tests was HIV and I remember thinking, 'Oh God, if I've got it, I'm going to die.' Waiting for the results was terrifying. I associated HIV with the 1980s."
The actor added it is 'a massive honour' to portray this story, adding: "And if people think I'm HIV positive in real life, let them."
Soaps have tackled the issue before - most famously EastEnders' Mark Fowler, played by Todd Carty in the 80s and more recently Emmerdale's Val Pollard (Charlie Hardwick) - but both characters were straight.
Hollyoaks executive producer Bryan Kirkwood said: "We have wanted to tell this story for a long time and while HIV can affect anyone, infection rates in young gay men remain too high and to ignore that is to do the gay audience a disservice. Hollyoaks is in a unique positon to be able to talk directly to millions of young viewers and if the safe-sex message is not coming through education we can help with that both on screen and through multi-platform support.
"2015 is Hollyoaks' 20th year and to make that our 'year of safe sex' felt right for a show built upon telling rites of passage stories. With Ste's HIV and other stories for our teenage characters we will explore the many implications of unprotected sex and hope to encourage thoughtful debate amongst our audience."
Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.
Get the latest updates, reviews and unmissable series to watch and more!
Thank you for signing up to Whattowatch. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.