Val Pollard (Charlie Hardwick) is to have her worst fears confirmed next week when she’s diagnosed HIV positive.
Over the past month, viewers have seen Val struggling to come to terms with the possibility that she may have the infection following the arrival of ex-boyfriend Ian, who disclosed that he has HIV.
In an episode to be shown on Tuesday 18 February, both Val and husband Eric Pollard (Chris Chittell) will be tested at a nearby clinic. But while Pollard soon finds that he’s in the clear, Val is told that she is in fact HIV positive.
Later in the week, an emotional Val will also discover that Pollard had a recent one-night stand with Diane (Elizabeth Estensen), news that leads her to throw her husband out of the house.
“Val begins to think, ‘what have I got left?’,” reveals actor Chris Chittell, who plays Eric. “She starts to feel that she might as well just smoke and drink herself to death. She lashes out at anyone and anything.”
On the topic of this latest storyline, Emmerdale’s series producer Kate Oates said recently to ITV’s This Morning: “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’s 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 want to bust through. She’s a woman of a certain generation.”