Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas has revealed he is HIV positive – and how he struggled to overcome his “shame” at the diagnosis The 45-year-old is the first UK athlete to talk publicly about having the virus Gareth, who was capped 100 times for Wales, lived with the secret for years – but is now speaking out so he can help end the stigma He told the Sunday Mirror: “I had a fear people would judge me and treat me like a leper because of a lack of knowledge 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 “And having a strong support system and the personal strength and experience of overcoming those emotions got me through it ” The former British Lions captain revealed he was gay in 2009 and split from teenage sweetheart Jemma after a seven-year marriage He married husband Stephen – who is HIV free – after being diagnosed and they were married three years ago Gareth received the news after going for a tourist sexual health test at a private clinic in Cardiff He said: “I sat down on a chair next to a doctor’s bench. She (the nurse) told me in a quite matter of fact way I had tested HIV positive “When she said those words I broke down. I was in such a state. I immediately thought I was going to die “I felt like an express train was hitting me at 300mph. I wasn’t expecting it at all Then I was thinking ‘how long have I got left?’ I was distraught.” He then had to recount the news to a string of former sexual partners so they could be tested Gareth’s condition is now under control to the point it is considered “undetectable” and can’t be passed on He receives regular counselling and has blood tests at Cardiff Royal Infirmary every six months But Gareth has never used the main entrance, saying: “I’ve always gone through a side door before opening hours because I thought if people spotted me they’d put two and two together and work out my secret “It has all been shrouded in a sense of shame and from me entering the clinic to leaving always feels like a blur I still don’t feel I could walk in through the main entrance even now, although maybe that’ll change “HIV is a scary subject. There’s a lot of fear and ignorance. But the fear is something people learned in the 1980s from the tombstone adverts on TV In 2019 there is nothing to be afraid of. “People need to know that due to modern medicine HIV is not life-threatening any more and because of the medication I take, there’s no way it can be passed on “It’s very controllable. In terms of effect on the body, diabetes is considered worse to have than HIV by doctors I’m not dying.”

Wales rugby legend Gareth Thomas reveals HIV diagnosis in fight to end stigma
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One thought on “Wales rugby legend Gareth Thomas reveals HIV diagnosis in fight to end stigma

  • September 15, 2019 at 1:06 pm
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    SURPRISED?????

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