Gareth Thomas breaks down in emotional interview after revealing HIV diagnosis

17 September 2019, 17:46

By Megan White

Welsh former rugby player Gareth Thomas broke down in tears in an emotional interview after revealing he is living with HIV.

The 45-year-old Dancing on Ice star spoke out about his diagnosis for the first time on This Morning, saying he wants to “break the stigma” around the condition.

He also revealed that he had felt forced to reveal his secret after being blackmailed, but that now he wants to use this opportunity to educate the public and break the worldwide stigmas surrounding HIV.

With the help of medication, Gareth’s HIV remains undetected and his life span unaffected.

Speaking live from his home in Wales, Mr Thomas told Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby about how this secret had taken over his life during the past few years.

Gareth Thomas in his rugby playing days in 2007
Gareth Thomas in his rugby playing days in 2007. Picture: PA

Discussing how living with HIV in secret for so long lead him to suicidal thoughts, Mr Thomas revealed: “I felt like I needed to trust people as I needed their support. But when you trust people you realise you become vulnerable, which kind of spiralled completely out of control.

“I could wake up in a good mood, but those who knew my secret could wake up in a bad mood and so I had no control over my destiny anymore.”

He also spoke about how he kept his HIV a secret from his family, tearfully adding: “I didn’t want my brother, who didn’t have the knowledge of it, to be afraid of me cuddling my niece, but I just thought because they didn’t know they’re going to be afraid of that.”

On finally deciding to tell his family, friends and the public, Mr Thomas said: “First of all, I took control of this, because I wanted to take control of my life. A couple of months in, having decided that the best way was to tell people so that they have the knowledge.

“I know now that it’s not about me. It’s so, so selfish to make it about me. It’s about everybody else living with HIV and affected by it.

“I’d love to try and change the world on this issue, but as a society if we understand that living with HIV doesn’t affect anyone if they’re are on effective treatment, then as a society nobody has to be afraid.

“People drinking out of the same glass, people attending to wounds, there’s no risk of passing it on.”

While talking about the blackmail he was subject to, Mr Thomas said he was “being asked for a lot of things that I couldn’t physically deliver” and so decided to come clean about his secret.

Since revealing he is living with HIV, the former rugby player has had an outpouring of support from fellow celebrities, most notably Princes William and Harry.