The National Aids Trust has attacked terrestrial broadcasters for failing to represent people living with HIV, as it kicks off an awareness-raising campaign supported by US media company Viacom.
"The media has the influence and the budgets to change the public's prejudices about people living with HIV in a way that charities can't," said Keith Weinstein, campaigns manager at the Trust.
Viacom is promoting the Staying Alive campaign by running HIV-themed programming and public service announcements across its cable TV channels including MTV, Paramount Comedy and VH1.
Weinstein said that since Todd Carty's character Mark Fowler left Eastenders last year, there is no HIV-positive role model on terrestrial TV for young people to connect with.
The campaign will also use cinema, print, online and outdoor advertising to promote awareness of the disease and encourage more people to get tested.