Hollyoaks character Ste Hay will next year become the first major gay character in a British soap to be diagnosed with HIV.

Ste, played by Kieron Richardson, 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.

Speaking on Gaydio earlier in the year, Richardson said he was besieged with abusive messages after he was mixed up with Kieron Richardson, a footballer who last week signed with Aston Villa.

Richardson came out on This Morning in September 2010. He later said that he received 17,000 emails of support on the day the show was aired.

He will talk about the storyline in the latest issue of GT, which will come out later this week.

Also this week, Hollyoaks featured trans journalist Paris Lees in a storyline about character Blessing, who came out as trans earlier in the year.

Update: This article originally stated that Ste Hay will be the first gay character living with HIV in a UK soap, however Ste will be the first major character, as Eastenders character Joe Wallace, played by Jason Rush, was a character who featured briefly, and who lived with HIV.