Viewers know that Zack discovered he had HIV in January. An old friend visited him with the news that he himself had been diagnosed HIV positive and as they shared needles while using steroids, Zack may have it too.
He was later given a positive diagnosis all the while coping with the death of his baby Peach. And while at the time he managed to open up to Sam Mitchell and get support that way, it was only this week that Zack told his family.
Actor James appeared on The One Show on Friday to speak about the latest developments. He praised the soap’s research team and the Terrence Higgins Trust for helping him on the plot.
EastEnders star’s emotional response to HIV storyline
And he became emotional, becoming tearful at times, at the response from fans. He said: “I’m so passionate about this.”
James also told how some fans have refused to shake his hand following the diagnosis. He said: “It’s storytelling at its best. You’ll see the Walford residents on Monday – it’s a similar reaction to what Peggy Mitchell, Barbara Windsor had which was you’re not coming in my pub because I don’t wanna catch this.
“Where within my story it’s been people saying that you can catch it from toilet seats and shaking hands. I’ve had it out there in the public, where people have gone ‘ugh I better not shake your hand’ whether it’s tongue-in-cheek or not it is it’s not acceptable either.”
A clearly shocked Alex Jones said: “It’s surprising that you say that.” “It’s still happening,” James added.
James, 35, joined the cast of the BBC soap in 2021 and was praised for his appearance on The One Show. Fans gushed about his interview and his raising awareness of HIV.
Read more: Who is leaving EastEnders this year?
One fan said: “Such a lovely guy you are doing an amazing job James you should be so proud of yourself.” A second said: “#EastEnders never shies away from the difficult storylines. Well done to all x #TheOneShow.”
A third said: “Love James and Whitney. Such a good storyline.”
EastEnders usually airs weeknights at 7.30pm on BBC One.
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