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US NewsRugby legend Gareth Thomas reveals HIV diagnosis

06:45  15 september  2019
06:45  15 september  2019 Source:   news.sky.com

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The 45-year-old became the first UK sportsman to disclose he has the virus during an interview with the Sunday Mirror - before revealing in a video on his Twitter page that he had been "forced" to make the admission.

In the video he says: "I want to share my secret with you. Why? Because it's mine to tell. Not the evils threatening to tell you before I do.

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"Now even though I've been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight to educate."

Rugby legend Gareth Thomas reveals HIV diagnosis © Imagebridge Gareth Thomas is the first major British sportsman to reveal an HIV diagnosis Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, he said he had felt "shame" over the diagnosis and was suicidal at one point.

"I had a fear people would judge me and treat me like a leper because of a lack of knowledge," he said.

"I was in a dark place, feeling suicidal. I thought about driving off a cliff."

The former Wales rugby union and league star came out as gay in 2009, becoming the first British rugby international to do so.

Rugby legend Gareth Thomas reveals HIV diagnosis © Getty The star came out as gay 10 years ago Describing the day he received the diagnosis, Mr Thomas said: "I'll never ever forget the moment I found out. I went for a routine sexual health test at a private clinic in Cardiff.

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"I'd had the tests every now and again and they'd always come back okay. I didn't feel ill and I thought everything was going to be fine.

"The woman who did the test took blood as usual, then I went out to my car and waited for about an hour before going back in to get my results.

"When I went back in, I sat down on a chair next to a doctor's bench. She told me in a quite matter-of-fact way I had tested HIV positive."

The rugby star said he immediately "broke down" and "thought I was going to die", adding: "I felt like an express train was hitting me at 300mph."

Rugby legend Gareth Thomas reveals HIV diagnosis © Getty The former rugby player said he felt suicidal after the diagnosis Mr Thomas now takes one tablet containing four medications a day and his condition is "undetectable" - meaning it cannot be passed on.

His husband Stephen, who he met after being diagnosed, does not have HIV.

About 101,600 people in the UK live with HIV but there is still a lot of stigma around the illness.

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HIV can progress to AIDS if it is not treated, but most patients in wealthy countries do not develop AIDS if they get treatment.

Mr Thomas said: "Many people live in fear and shame of having HIV, but I refuse to be one of them now. We need to break the stigma once and for all.

"I'm speaking out because I want to help others and make a difference."

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Rugby legend Gareth Thomas reveals HIV diagnosis

The Samaritans offer support and advice to people feeling suicidal or vulnerable 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Their website is http://www.samaritans.org, email address jo@samaritans.org or call free on 116 123.

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