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A journalist told Gareth Thomas’ parents about his HIV status before he did: ‘I can never take that moment back’

Josh Milton September 18, 2019
Gareth Thomas prepares to have a final swim ahead of IRONMAN Wales. (Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

Gareth Thomas prepares to have a final swim ahead of IRONMAN Wales. (Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

Gareth Thomas has revealed the pain he felt finding out a journalist had told his own parents about his HIV status before he did.

The former Wales captain candidly told BBC Radio 5 Live today that opening up about living with HIV to his family is a moment he can have back.

“That person came and took that moment away from me,” he said.

Between leaping into the arms of his husband and receiving the support from Prince Harry, Thomas has jumped on the airwaves of several outlets to encourage discussions about living with HIV.

But while many HIV organisations and sports personalities have welcomed Thomas’ willingness to do so, how the 45-year-old was forced to come out as living with HIV because a tabloid threatened him remains a point of contention.

Gareth Thomas: “I can never have that time back to sit down with them.”

Thomas has not named the journalist or publication, and today spoke about the impact a journalist informing his parents of his status has had on him and his family.

“They love me, they love me whatever,” he said.

“It’s just, I can never have that time back to sit down with them and be able to explain to them why their son is going to be OK and be able to live through this and have a healthy normal life.

“I can never take that moment back. That person came and took that moment away from me.

“My parents will say they’re fine because they’re my parents, but I can’t tell you how they really felt because I can’t imagine how that would feel.”

Thomas then asks host Nicky Campbell whether he has children – he does – to which, Thomas asks them: “Can you imagine someone coming into your door and saying something personal, so intrusive to you about the thing, and the person, you would love and protect through anything.

“Could you imagine how that would feel? I can’t.

“All I can tell you,” he said as his voice crackled, “is that I have the best parents on this planet because, to this day, they stand by me and believe in me.

“They believe in what I’m doing now.”

Thomas just wanted to “protect” his parents. 

Moreover, Thomas said the journalist is a “person who has put [his parents] through a lot” and that he wanted to “protect them” from the after-shocks of being outed.

When Campbell asked Thomas what he would say to the journalist if they were tuning in now, he said: “I’m not a hateful person.

Former Wales international rugby player Gareth Thomas stands at the side of the pitch during the Premier League match between Cardiff City and Fulham FC at the Cardiff City Stadium on October 20, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales.
Former Wales international rugby player Gareth Thomas stands at the side of the pitch during the Premier League match between Cardiff City and Fulham FC at the Cardiff City Stadium on October 20, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Athena Pictures/Getty)

“I struggle to find hate and I believe in empathy and trying to understand.

“I would like to see these people be able to be strong enough and turn around and say, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry I shouldn’t have done it.’

“And then I can forgive and move on,” Thomas said.

Journalist telling Thomas’ parents his HIV status is “totally unacceptable,” say HIV advocates.

Furthermore, HIV advocate and co-founder of I Want PrEP Now Greg Owen condemned the actions of the journalist, emphasising the psychological impact being outed can have on someone living with HIV.

“What Gareth reports is deeply upsetting and totally unacceptable,” he told PinkNews. “A HIV diagnosis is an incredibly personal thing.

“A person living with HIV should always be in control of who they choose to tell and when. No one has the right to remove that choice.

“The implications are much wider here too. We know Gareth struggled with his mental health and had dark times. The health and well-being of the person should always be a priority and take precedence.”

Owen added: “It can be a huge relief for some people to be open about their HIV status but only when they feel ready and supported and it’s safe to do so.

“Gareth is now owning his story by showing the world that he is living life to the full and HIV is not going to stop him in any way.”

More: BBC Radio 5 live, Gareth Thomas, HIV

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