Storyline Spotlight - Cassie's HIV (Mar - June)


Recently, Cassie Turner was told she was HIV positive. We all know that HIV is a serious virus and that it can be dangerous, and Cassie knew this too. Being pregnant also added to her worries. Cassie was sure she wouldn't live to look after her child and that her child will most likely contract the virus, obvious worries in her position. Sharni Vinson has portrayed these emotional feelings very well over the past month, and this has earned her great respect with our members. Cassie's popularity has risen with this challenging storyline.

Cassie contracted HIV from her boyfriend and short-time fiancée Henk. He had not known he had HIV and when they had un-protected sex (tut-tut) not only did he get her pregnant, but HIV positive.

Cassie at first was very negative about this situation, but then after a few kind words from a doctor and some counselling, she has come to deal with it. She believes she will live to an old age and that her child will not contract the virus. She however is very careful whom she tells. Martha knew, as did Belle, Ric and Matilda soon knew after over-hearing her shouting in the hospital. She told Sally after she'd woken up from surgery on her stab wound.

When Cassie, Leah, Irene, Roman and Colleen were in the old Beachside Diner, a big piece of plaster fell from the roof and cut Cassie on the head. When blood started pouring on the floor Cassie freaked out, and started cleaning it up, yelling at the others to get away, not before she stormed out in a very emotional style. Roman, in his good-guy style, went after her, because he'd put two and two together. Before leaving he told the rest of them to wear gloves if they were to clean up the blood.

When Roman found Cassie, he subtly let her know that he knew she had HIV when he said that he was wearing gloves, and he also prompted her to tell Irene, Leah and Colleen. He figured they'd figure it out, and knew Cassie would rather tell them than let them wonder about it and speculate wildly. They were very sympathetic and understanding. Colleen however, was a little wary and frightened, so when she found Cassie and Pippa holding hands, she very un-tactfully (Colleen style) told Pippa to "come over here, pet." Cassie reacted badly to this, but it was understandable. She wouldn't want people getting the wrong idea about HIV and made sure Colleen knew that Pippa couldn't contract the virus from holding hands.

After that, she decided to talk to Miles' year twelve class about HIV. She seemed to have inspired the class with her talk. Aden missed half the talk, and came in late, just when Cassie was explaining that she was only just found out that she was HIV+ but she could have had it longer than that and how you can contract the virus through unprotected sex, sharing needles and blood-to-blood contact. Aden suddenly remembered the car accident and that he and Cassie had both been involved in and that they had had close, blood to blood contact. He stormed out and told Cassie she'd better pray he didn't have this virus. We later saw Aden with a small plaster on his arm, crying.

Here's what the members have to say about HIV and how it is being handled (from the discussion threads):

"I don't know much about HIV. But I do think that it is being acted out very well. I think the most terrifying part was when the Diner roof fell on top of Cassie's head and she started to bleed. Her reaction is one that I would expect from a HIV Positive person. Her thinking that her blood is toxic would be spot on in my books. (Cal) Everything from Cassie dealing with it and having to tell other people as well as dealing with some not so good reactions has been good. (~Lynd~) I think it's being handled well and is actually educational. I think the reaction of Cassie's friends was good, maybe they were taught about HIV at school, as they seem quite clued up ie. they're not afraid to touch her. (H&A_FAN) I was concerned at first that H&A were just going to skim the surface or sugar coat the HIV storyline and make it disappear quickly but they really seem to be focusing on giving more medical insights on treatments and what to expect with the virus, not to mention giving us insight of certain misconceptions with the illness, it wasn't long ago that people thought you could catch it by sitting on a toilet seat, how daft is that, but hopefully H&A will bring some understanding and compassion for those who have this illness. (Cheex30) I think this storyline has been handled extremely well, and it's great that they decided to do this in the first place. It's so important that HIV is dealt with in a way that doesn't make the victims seem that different from other people. (Eli) Nothing has been fudged, and everyone's reactions have been as you would expect. They have dealt with it head on and not skirted around it as they did with the girl who was friends with Joey a few years back. (Bareenfan) I think Sharni is an incredibly talented actress.... as the HIV storyline has shown us... I just wish they had cast her as an older character where she could have shone earlier.... (Frankie) We all know HIV is a really important issue, and that the virus is dangerous, something like that must be hard to portray, but Sharni has it spot-on. (Cerise) Overall, my opinion of Cassie has changed dramatically since she first arrived, and I put that down to good writing and fantastic storylines that allow Sharni to really shine as an actress. (bttb-rox!)"