MX23RW : Monday, October 14 04:14:15| >> :600:2465978:2465978:

Prince William brands Gareth Thomas "legend" over HIV admission

Prince William brands Gareth Thomas
© Reuters
The former Wales rugby captain says he was driven to suicidal thoughts after the diagnosis.

The Duke of Cambridge has described Gareth Thomas as a "legend" after the former Wales rugby star revealed he is HIV positive.

Thomas, who came out as gay in 2009, is thought to be the first UK sportsman to go public about living with the virus, and has revealed he was driven to suicidal thoughts as a result of his diagnosis.

He went public with his illness after being put "through hell" by blackmailers who threatened to expose his secret, saying he hopes his openness will help end the stigma around the condition.

Thomas' decision to speak out has earned widespread praise and won the backing of the Duke of Cambridge, who is the patron of the Welsh Rugby Union.

Through his Kensington Palace account, adding "W" meaning it was written by William himself, he retweeted Thomas' video.

He added the message: "Courageous as ever – legend on the pitch and legend off it. You have our support Gareth. W"

Thomas, 45, became the first Wales player to win 100 caps for his country.

He won his 100th and final cap at the 2007 World Cup in France and scored 41 tries for Wales between 1995 and 2017.  He is 13th on the all-time international test try-scoring list.

The Cardiff Blues player also won three caps for the British and Irish Lions, and captained them during the 2005 Test series in New Zealand, before ended his career in rugby league.

The coach of the current Wales rugby team Warren Gatland was asked about the Thomas news at the team's World Cup training camp in Kitakyushu, Japan.

Wales v England – Guinness Six Nations – Principality Stadium
Walens head coach Warren Gatland said his thoughts are with Gareth Thomas (Paul Harding/PA)

"It's always sad when an ex-professional sportsman picks up an illness of any kind," he said.

"Our thoughts go out to him and we hope things are as good as they possibly can be.

"As the players become aware of the news, I'm sure they'll talk about it."

Last November, Thomas was attacked in Cardiff city centre in a homophobic hate crime, but asked South Wales Police to deal with the 16-year-old assailant by way of restorative justice.

Rugby Union – International – Wales v Argentina – Millennium Stadium
Thomas in action for Wales (David Jones/PA)

The sportsman now takes one tablet containing four medications each day, and doctors have said his condition is under control to the point that it is considered "undetectable" and cannot be passed on.

Thomas said that his husband Stephen, who he met after his diagnosis and married three years ago, does not have HIV.

The Terrence Higgins Trust said Thomas' story will "transform attitudes towards HIV that are stuck in the 1980s".

The HIV charity said: "Gareth is proof that an HIV diagnosis shouldn't stop you from doing anything you want to do."

"Gareth blazed a trail by being the first rugby player to come out as gay and has done so much to encourage inclusion and diversity within the sport.

"Now he is doing that once again with HIV, showing that this virus doesn't need to be a barrier when you're diagnosed and accessing treatment."

Thomas, who took part in a 140-mile Ironman triathlon in Tenby hours after revealing he is HIV positive, 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've been threatened by people who said they would give away my secret. It's sick and I've been through hell.

"I was being blackmailed and in my mind I thought you only get blackmailed for something really bad, which compounded the feeling of shame."

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123, or visit a local Samaritans branch.

body check tags ::

Click here for more stories about Gareth Thomas

Click here for more stories about Wales

Share this article now:
Instagram - Follow Sports Mole
A general shot of a Premier League football ahead of the Premier League clash between Everton and West Ham United at Goodison Park on October 30, 2016
Read Next:
Kick It Out name Sanjay Bhandari as new chair
>

Rugby World Cup
Euro Champ Qualifying
Shanghai Masters Final
Result
Medvedev
Zverev
6 6
4 1
International Friendlies
League One
Segunda Division
Eerste Divisie
Brasileiro
Australian A-League
Chinese Super League
Women's Super League
NFL

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!