Earlier this month Val Pollard’s (Charlie Hardwick) world was turned upside down when a man she had a fling with on holiday turned up at the Woolpack and told her he was HIV positive. Val has since refused to have a test herself to determine her own status.
Appearing on This Morning earlier today, Oates revealed she was proud of the story as it challenges the preconceptions people have of HIV.
[The story] is one I’m really proud of. It’s about HIV in a straight, middle-aged white married woman, which is not a story that I think soap has tackled yet. Obviously for a lot of soap fans, the last time they came across HIV in a big soap was EastEnders’ Mark Fowler, which was a fantastic story and very much of its time.
Things have changed so dramatically and I suppose I just wanted to tell a story that informed people properly, and made people realise that actually their preconceptions of what HIV is today really probably aren’t right.
What’s interesting is that Val shares the stigmas that I sort of want to bust through, really. She’s a woman of a certain generation. What she doesn’t do is go and get tested, because she’s frightened. She buries her head in the sand and she’s not talking to the man who really loves her, Eric, about how they might get through this. – Kate Oates
Oates also teased that more old faces could return to the village later this year following the recent return of Leyla Harding (Roxy Shahidi) and the upcoming return of Donna Windsor (Verity Rushworth).
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