Prince Harry and Gareth Thomas want you to get tested for HIV
Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas speaks to the Duke of Sussex about his HIV diagnosis in a powerful new film released to mark the start of HIV Testing Week.
In the film, Thomas says that the virus is not a “death sentence” and he wants more people to know that by taking one pill a day, he can’t pass the virus on to his husband, Stephen.
Prince Harry tells Thomas that what he’s doing to tackle stigma around HIV is “amazing” and that everyone should get tested to “make it easier for those that are fearful, that are scared to come forward”.
The pair were meeting for the first time in the stands of Harlequin Rugby Club. Prince Harry previously offered his support to Thomas, 45, when he revealed that he was living with HIV – calling him “an absolute legend” for opening up about his status.
Thomas, who came out as gay in 2009, was forced to come out as HIV positive on September 14. He is thought to be the first UK sportsman to go public about living with the virus.
It’s National HIV Testing Week! What better way to kick things off than by bringing together The Duke of Sussex and @gareththomas14?
‘I want to do whatever I can to remove the fear people have about testing for HIV,’ says Gareth.
— Terrence Higgins Trust (@THTorguk) November 16, 2019
In the video, he tells Prince Harry that the moment he received his positive diagnosis was when he realised he wanted to educate others about the realities of living with HIV.
“We do so much around our health – going to the dentist, going to the doctor. But when it comes to sexual health testing there’s the stigma and fear around it,” Thomas says to Prince Harry.
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“Because I wasn’t educated about HIV, I thought I had been given a death sentence when I was diagnosed and I don’t want anyone else to go through that,” Thomas says.
“I want to prove there’s life after a positive diagnosis and show everyone the realities of HIV. I take one pill a day which keeps me healthy, means I have absolutely no fear of passing on HIV to my husband and means I’m fit enough to do an Ironman!” he added.
HIV testing is free and offered by sexual health clinics and GPs, or can be carried out at home with a free testing kit ordered online.
New statistics from Public Health England estimate that around 1 in 14 people living with HIV in the UK don’t know their positive status, while 43% of people diagnosed last year were diagnosed late, which is after damage to the immune system has already begun.