As Variety reported earlier this year, there aren't a lot of storylines about HIV on television these days, even though some of the most-watched shows 20 years ago featured on-going HIV-related plots. Which made the cancellation of HBO's Looking a big loss to the poz community in terms of representation in popular culture. Fortunately, one of the best recent HIV-positive character portrayals — Oliver on How to Get Away with Murder — will continue next month: actor Conrad Ricamora was bumped up to series regular on the show. (Read our interview with Ricamora here.)
Here's a look back at the most notable HIV-positive characters and plotlines of the past 35 years.
Actor Conrad Ricamora on ABC's How to Get Away With Murder (2015-Present)
When reformed heartbreaker Connor (played by actor Jack Falahee) and shy computer nerd Oliver (Ricamora) started getting hot and heavy, they did the commendable thing and got tested for HIV. When Oliver's came back positive and Connor's negative, it opened up a chance for the serodiscordant couple to learn together what the diagnosis means for Oliver and their relationship. As Rebecca Raber on Take Part noted, "When Connor began taking [PrEP] so that he could resume a sexual relationship with Oliver, it was quite possibly the first time PrEP was mentioned on a prime-time network show. Though there has been some controversy surrounding Truvada, Connor’s decision to take it was presented matter-of-factly, a means to end in which he can continue the physical side of his relationship with Oliver."