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Duke of Sussex and Gareth Thomas to raise awareness of HIV

UK News | Published:

The sports star completed an Ironman triathlon in Wales on Sunday.

Gareth Thomas

Former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas is planning to team up with the Duke of Sussex to raise awareness of HIV.

Thomas, 45, revealed he was suffering from the virus and vowed to “break the stigma” after blackmailers put him “through hell” threatening to expose his secret.

Celebrities, sportspeople and members of the public offered their support to the ex-British and Irish Lions captain, with the Duke of Cambridge calling him “courageous as ever”, international referee Nigel Owens saying Thomas was “brave as ever” and Kelly Holmes calling him a “legend”.

Thomas told the Daily Mirror: “Like me, Prince Harry wants to break the stigma around HIV and he has already done a lot of great work.

“We are planning to work together now. To do something with him will be really powerful.”

He also spoke of how work started by Diana, Princess of Wales, can be built upon to change people’s attitudes towards HIV and AIDS.

Prince Harry promotes HIV testing
Prince Harry has blood taken for a HIV test (Chris Jackson/PA)

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He told the paper: “Quite often I look at that photo of Diana at the clinic next to those frail-looking men and then I look at a photo of myself out on my bike and it motivates me because I can see how things have changed and advanced.”

The Duke of Sussex took a public HIV test alongside Rihanna on World Aids Day in 2016 and launched a campaign with Sir Elton John to combat the spread of the virus.

The Duke and Sir Elton launched the MenStar coalition last year which will expand the diagnoses and treatment of HIV infections in men, “with the aim of ultimately ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” Kensington Palace said at the time.

Gareth Thomas
Former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas who took part in a 140-mile Ironman triathlon (Anthony Devlin/PA)

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Meanwhile, Thomas hugged his husband as he finished a gruelling 140-mile Ironman triathlon just a day after revealing he is HIV positive.

The 45-year-old was cheered and applauded as he completed the mammoth challenge in 12 hours 18 minutes and 29 seconds, placing 413th out of 2,039 participants.

The visibly emotional sportsman was supported by parents Yvonne and Barry as he took on the Ironman Wales race in the seaside resort of Tenby in south Wales on Sunday.

The ex-fullback, who came out as gay in 2009, is thought to be the first UK sportsman to go public about living with HIV.

In a video posted on Twitter on Saturday evening, he said: “I am living with HIV.

“Now you have that information that makes me extremely vulnerable, but it does not make me weak.

“Even though I have been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight, to educate and break the stigma around this subject.

“And that begins today when I take on the toughest ironman in the world in Tenby, and I push myself physically to the limit.”

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