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Gareth Thomas says there’s ‘no way’ he could make it through HIV blackmail without loving husband

Josh Milton September 24, 2019
Gareth Thomas shows his finishers medal as he celebrates with his partner on completing his first Ironman triathlon. (Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

Gareth Thomas shows his finishers medal as he celebrates with his partner, Stephen Williams-Thomas, on completing his first Ironman triathlon. (Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

Gareth Thomas said there was “no way” that he could have made it through being blackmailed over his HIV status without his husband in a moving interview.

The embattled former Welsh rugby captain bravely told the world that he lives with HIV after a publication threatened to reveal it, and was met with national praise from HIV advocates and the public for doing so.

The image of Gareth running into the arms of his husband less than 24 hours after speaking out about his status at the end of a gruelling marathon was heart-warming.

And speaking to OK! magazine, Gareth said that without the support from husband Stephen Williams-Thomas there was “absolutely no way” he could never have gotten through the “dark times”.

“He was there at a time when I really needed him,” he said. “We always say to each other: ‘We love each other regardless. We’re together, forever, regardless.’

“Stephen was the only reason I got through the dark times.”

“When I told Stephen, he didn’t know anything about HIV,” says Gareth Thomas

In the touching interview, Gareth called Stephen a “beacon of light”.

“When I was feeling really low, I always had Stephen to go home to, to talk to, to make me laugh and be there if I wanted to cry and not judge me. He was there at a time when I really needed him.”

While Stephen said it was “horrendous” seeing how his husband was treated for living with HIV.

“Seeing Gareth at his darkest points, when people were threatening him, was heartbreaking. I never, ever want to see Gareth in that position again,” the teacher told OK!.

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)

“I was trying to support him and hold him, but it was the most horrible time. I just thought how can somebody put him in this position? It was just horrendous.”

Moreover, Stephen admitted that, before Gareth informed him about his own status, he was ignorant about what living with HIV means.

Gareth said: “No conversation is difficult with Stephen. He doesn’t judge people. When I told Stephen, he didn’t know anything about HIV.

“But he trusted me and the conversation was simple to have.”

Moreover, Gareth revealed that he married his husband three years ago as he opened up about his HIV diagnosis.

Ex-rugby star forced to reveal HIV status to public because of tabloid newspaper.

He was forced to publicly disclose his status after a tabloid newspaper threatened to out him as living with HIV, escalating with reporters visiting his parents’ home.

Furthermore, the sportsperson later told BBC Radio 5 Live that a journalist told his parents about his status.

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

The ex-rugby plater opened up about acquiring HIV in a Twitter video. He said: “I am living with HIV.

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

“No, even though I have been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight, to educate and break the stigma around this subject.”

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

High-profile figures, fellow sportspeople and celebrities took to social media to lend their support to Thomas after he made the announcement, including Prince Harry, the duke of Cambridge, and Welsh rugby star Shane Williams.

HIV advocacy groups also welcomed Gareth’s willingness to be frank about his status. Steve Wardlaw, chairman and co-founder of Emerald Life told PinkNews that the “scaremongering” around HIV is why Gareth’s stop has been “so huge.”  

“Perhaps the best way to illustrate our changed understanding of HIV,” Wardlaw said, “is to put the images of Gareth Thomas, hours after he first spoke of his diagnosis hugging the crowds cheering him on during last weekend’s Ironman, next to the groundbreaking image of Princess Diana shaking the gloveless hand of a man living with HIV in front of the world’s media in the mid ’80s.

“It’s still seen by some as a daring act, and that is wrong.”

More: Gareth Thomas, HIV, ok magazine

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