Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas has come out as HIV-positive after “evil” people threatened to go public with his condition without his consent. Thomas was called the bravest athlete in sports when he came out as gay in 2009 while still active as a fullback for the Cardiff Blues professional rugby team.
Thomas made the announcement about his HIV status in a video posted to Twitter on Saturday.
Said Thomas: “I want to share my secret with you. Why? Because it’s mine to tell you. Not the evils that make my life hell by threatening to tell you before I do. And because I believe in you and I trust you. I’m living with HIV. Now you have that information, that makes me extremely vulnerable but it does not make me weak. Now even though I have been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight to educate and break the stigma around this subject.”
Thomas also told the Sunday Mirror: “I’ve been living with this secret for years. I’ve felt shame and keeping such a big secret has taken its toll. I was in a dark place, feeling suicidal. I thought about driving off a cliff. To me, wanting to die was just a natural thought and felt like the easier way out, but you have to confront things. I was being blackmailed and in my mind I thought you only get blackmailed for something really bad, which compounded the feeling of shame.”
Thomas said that he takes antiretroviral medication and the virus is now undetectable.
“I went for a routine sexual health test at a private clinic in Cardiff. I didn’t feel ill and thought everything was going to be fine,” he added. “When (the doctor) said those words… I immediately thought I was going to die. I felt like an express train was hitting me at 300mph. Then I was thinking ‘how long have I got left?’ I’m speaking out because I want to help others and make a difference. I hope me speaking out about my diagnosis will help a lot of people.”
Prince William and Kate Middleton tweeted their support for Thomas after the revelation.