Former Welsh pro-rugby participant Gareth Thomas got here out final 12 months as HIV-positive after studying that tabloids deliberate to out him. He made the announcement in an emotional video, the place he vowed to interrupt the stigma across the virus.
One 12 months later, Thomas has been honored for his work doing simply that.
The acclaimed ex-rugger was honored not too long ago on the British LGBT awards for his efforts to unfold HIV consciousness and vocal advocacy for LGBTQ athletes. Thomas got here out in 2009, and on the time, our Cyd Zeigler in contrast the magnitude of his announcement to Lance Armstrong or Michael Phelps popping out within the U.S.
Thomas retired from rugby in 2011. Throughout his completed profession, he revamped 100 take a look at match appearances, and gained 4 rugby league caps for Wales.
Today, Thomas spends his time eradicating dangerous myths surrounding HIV. He’s created the TackleHIV marketing campaign, which seeks to finish HIV-related stigma and discrimination. Thomas says each duties are a necessity relating to eliminating HIV/AIDS as a public well being risk.
In a latest interview with the Homosexual Occasions, Thomas stated he initially thought getting recognized with HIV was a dying sentence. Whereas fashionable drugs has come a great distance — the appearance of antiretroviral drugs have turned HIV right into a manageable power sickness for these with entry to them — the stigma stays.
A survey taken this 12 months discovered 61 p.c of respondents stated in the event that they knew a companion was HIV-positive, they might finish or think about ending the connection.
“Individuals don’t perceive the information about HIV,” Thomas informed the Homosexual Occasions. “It looks like during the last 20 years or so, drugs and science has been this underground motion of success, however it’s by no means actually been celebrated or publicized of how superior it’s turn into, so folks simply don’t know.”
Together with his new initiative, Thomas is aiming to shut the information hole. On the digital award ceremony, Prince Harry complimented Thomas’ work, saying it’s impressed him to lift consciousness as properly.
In due time, hopefully there’ll now not be a stigma round HIV, so HIV-positive folks aren’t blackmailed and discriminated in opposition to. Thomas is doing his greatest to alter that, telling his highly effective story to at least one individual at a time.