Amid the newly revealed statistics showing an increase of people testing positive for HIV in Britain, soap opera ‘Hollyoaks’ will create a storyline for gay character, Ste Hay.
In January, Hollyoaks will set up a storyline for long-time character Ste, played by Kieran Richardson, hoping to highlight the knowledge of HIV among young gay men.
“I was worried about telling this story – that it would amplify a long-dead belief that HIV is a gay disease,” Hollyoaks producer Bryan Kirkwood told The Guardian. “But then I started reading the shocking statistics that 2012 was the all-time peak of new diagnoses among gay men and I thought by not telling this story we’re doing the gay audience a disservice. We want to convey the message that HIV hasn’t gone away, but is no longer a life-threatening illness – as long as you get tested.”
Actor Richardson – who came out in 2010 – revealed his lack of sex education in school and his first STI test, which came after unprotected sex and the worry of his diagnosis.
“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.”
On 21 November, the sex and relationships curriculum bill will have its second reading in the House of Commons. The bill hopes to increase sex education in school and is expected to fail. This comes after the sobering results of a health report revealed yesterday.
Last year saw 462 cases of HIV infection among 15- to 24-year-old gay and bisexual men; more new cases in this age group than ever and an increase of 3.36% even on the year before, which was also the highest figure to date. Numbers among the next age group (25-34) peaked too. This compares to a downward trend among young people overall.
Out magazine’s recent interview with Zachary Quinto revealed his views on “laziness” in the gay community when it comes to safe sex and sexual health.
Get tested for free this Saturday for HIV Testing Week.
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