Earlier this year in EastEnders Zack Hudson (James Farrar) received the devastating news that he was HIV positive. The infection came from a period in his life when he was taking steroids and sharing needles.
Brett, the friend Zack had shared the needles with, was quick to reassure him that people with HIV can live a long and healthy life and Zack started treatment, but one thing he couldn’t bring himself to do was tell Whitney (Shona McGarty) – who was pregnant with his baby – about his diagnosis.
Zack was relieved that, as a matter of routine, Whitney was offered an HIV test because of her pregnancy and this came back negative. But of course it wasn’t long before they were given the terrible news that their baby had a rare genetic condition which would mean she would be unlikely to survive long after birth and they took the decision to have a termination to spare the baby from suffering.
Recently they’ve been grieving the loss of baby Peach and had a moment of togetherness after planting a tree in their daughter’s memory, but Zack pulled away from Whitney’s kiss because of his HIV status.
In Tuesday (March 21)’s episode there was some good news for Zack as an appointment with a consultant about his HIV revealed that his treatment is working and his viral load is dropping. Sam (Kim Medcalf), who’d gone along to support Zack, asked the doctor on his behalf what the risks would be if Zack was to have sex, and whether he could still be a dad.
The doctor told Zack that any prospective partner could take PrEP, medication to reduce the chances of the virus being passed on. He suggested that Zack should wait until his viral load is undetectable before trying to have a child, but that it was perfectly possible.
Braced by this news Zack went to talk to Whitney. She’d spent the day feeling embarrassed that he’d rebuffed her when she kissed him, but was sure she loved him and wanted to be with him.
Before long, Zack said he felt the same about her and said he wanted to be a dad and wanted to be with her. There was a moment of genuine happiness for Whitney, but Zack knew he had to tell her about his HIV.
Her reaction was not what he’d hoped for, but was perhaps exactly what he expected. She was shocked that he’d kept his HIV status from her for months, and of course wanted to know if it had any bearing on Peach’s health condition. Zack reassured her that it didn’t, and answered her questions about how he came to be infected.
He said that he’d wanted to tell her, but with everything going on with Peach he hadn’t felt able to. Whitney’s anger flared at that.
‘Don’t use Peach as an excuse,’ she insisted. ‘You ran away, like the coward you are.’
Then she told him to get out. ‘You ain’t good enough,’ she said.
Will she have a change of heart when she’s thought things through? Or is the fact that they love each other not going to be enough for Zack and Whitney?
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