Emmerdale takes Huntington’s disease mainstream
Affecting around one in 10,000 people, Huntington’s disease is extremely rare. This means that most people have never even heard of it, and don’t know anything about it. Why is this important? Well, funding for rare disease research and treatment is desperately needed, and it’s difficult to fundraise for a cause no one has heard of!
ITV show raising awareness
In November last year, Emmerdale introduced a Huntington’s disease storyline. When character Lydia Hart came face-to-face with her long-lost mother, she learned that she was at risk through her father who died of the disease.
With an average episode of Emmerdale attracting between 5-7 million viewers, suddenly Huntington’s disease was in the spotlight. Moreover, the storyline gave rise to numerous blog posts and news articles about the genetic condition, which generated more interest.
The storyline has continued, and now, Lydia has made the huge decision to undergo the test for Huntington’s disease. Recently, the character has been losing her temper and lashing out. Lydia talks about how she’s been feeling with her cousin, highlighting her mood swings as an early symptom of HD.
Genetic condition or lockdown stress?
With the show mirroring the events of real life, the cast of Emmerdale is living with coronavirus restrictions. While Lydia’s diagnosis might seem obvious, it’s possible the stress of lockdown is impacting her mental health. Whatever the outcome, it is a positive step to see the impacts of Huntington’s disease considered and explored in a public space. We look forward to following her family’s story, and to the continuing education of millions of people about HD.