Kieron Richardson: Hollyoaks HIV storyline will be ‘massive’

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Hollyoaks actor Kieron Richardson says his character’s upcoming HIV-related storyline is “very important”.

Last week it was announced Richardson’s character Ste Hay will next year become the first major gay character in a British soap to be diagnosed with HIV.

Speaking on Gaydio’s The Kieron Richardson Show, he said: “Ste’s next storyline is HIV. I’m going to be the first openly gay character to be telling the story.”

“This is the first [time] it’s been done with a gay character. I think it’s massive!

He added: “HIV is on the rise predominantly within the gay community, so I think it’s very important that we do tell this story right now.

“If nothing else, if a few people watch these episodes and go get tested or prevent themselves from giving it to somebody else, it’s a great thing that we’ve achieved.”

Richardson added: “I’m really, really excited about it. Also the very dark side of it as well, we’ve had to do research and speak to people. It really does get to you and you think, ‘some people they go to really dark places’.”

“Not everybody takes to news incredibly well and for some people the eighties stigma is still there. Some people think ‘this is the end of me’.”

Ste will be diagnosed with HIV in January after having sex with a stranger, Connor, who is unaware that he is HIV positive.

Connor will later find out his status, and break the news to Ste on the Channel 4 soap.

The long-running storyline will explore his experiences of living with HIV and has been in the pipeline for several months. Producers have worked with the Terrence Higgins Trust to ensure its sensitivity.

It will explore Ste’s relationship with John-Paul McQueen, and will mark the first time a gay character in a British soap has been diagnosed with HIV.

Eastenders character Joe Wallace, played by Jason Rush, was a character who featured briefly in the BBC1 soap, and who lived with HIV in the early 90s.