All Rights reserved
Rugby player Gareth Thomas will team up with Prince Harry to fight stigma against HIV/AIDS.
This weekend Thomas, a star rugby player who publicly came out as gay in 2009, revealed in a video posted to Twitter that he has been living with HIV for an unspecified number of years. According to the retired athlete, he revealed this news after being blackmailed about his status in an effort to fight the stigma surrounding the virus.
"I've been living with this secret for years," he told the Sunday Mirror in an exclusive released in tandem with the video. "I had a fear people would treat me like a leper because of lack of knowledge. I was feeling suicidal." His own coming out was to intended to fight back, and the admission brought praise from Prince William, as well as Sir Elton John, who reportedly called Thomas personally.
Now Thomas is announcing an upcoming collaboration with Prince Harry.
"We are planning to work together now," Thomas told the Mirror. "To do something with him will be really powerful."
While the pair have not released details, they are currently in talks with Terrence Higgins Trust, which is the U.K.'s leading HIV and sexual health charity. Their work will likely focus on getting more people tested.
This won't be new ground for Prince William, who in 2016 publicly got tested in a bid to raise awareness. His charity, Sentebale, also works with children affected by HIV and AIDS in Africa, continuing the legacy of his mother, Princess Diana. In 1987, she was photographed shaking hands with someone dying from AIDS at a time when many believed the virus could be passed through touch alone.
"Quite often I look at that photo of Diana at the clinic next to those frail looking men and then I look at a photo of myself out on my bike and it motivates me because I can see how things have changed and advanced," Thomas told the Mirror. "It also makes me realize how lucky I am because I see what it was like for them and I know 30 years ago that could have been me."
Hours after posting the video about his status, Thomas showed his enduring physical strength by competing in an IronMan competition.