‘I’ve been living with this secret for years… it has taken its toll’: Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas reveals he has HIV and admits he considered committing suicide over his illness
Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas has revealed he has been suffering from HIV for ‘years’ and that the impact of hiding his secret left him contemplating suicide.
Thomas, 45, retired from playing rugby retired in 2011 having won 100 international caps for Wales.
‘I’ve been living with this secret for years. I’ve felt shame and keeping such a big secret has taken its toll.’
Wales rugby legend Gareth Thomas has confirmed from HIV and has kept it a secret for years
The Wales captain came out as gay in 2009. He confirmed that his husband Stephen, who he met after being diagnosed, does not have the virus.
‘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.
Thomas played 100 times during his illustrious career before he retired from the game in 2011
Gareth married his childhood sweetheart Jemma in 2002 but came out as gay in 2009
Thomas is the first major UK sports star to confirm a diagnosis of HIV.
The former Celebrity Big Brother star revealed he went for a routine sexual health check up when he found out the news.
Speaking about his reaction to being told, the former British and Irish Lions Captain said: ‘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.’
The former rugby star was left in tears and shock as he was then instructed to go to Cardiff Royal Infirmary straight away to begin his treatment.
Worse was to follow for Thomas when he had to reveal his diagnosis to his former lovers so that they could also be tested.
More to follow.