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positive rugby star, Thomas Magazine in the UK, praised for addressing the stigma



Sonia Elks

LONDON, October 31 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Former international rugby Gareth Thomas became one of the first people openly infected with HIV that appeared on the cover of British main magazine on Thursday, which was progress that was hailed as a virus. .

The Welsh sports star said that by revealing that he was gay and living with HIV, he sometimes made him feel "a little exposed," but he didn't regret it was published on the cover of Men & # 39; s Health in the UK.

"I'm walking down the street and realizes that people I don't even know are aware of my medical history and my sexuality," he said in a magazine.

"It can be quite invasive. But in reality I am in a better place now than ever before when people did not know my sexuality, so I would prefer it to be like this before. "

Thomas came out as a gay man in 2009, and in September this year announced that he has been living with HIV "for years", calling for support in "breaking the stigma" around HIV.

The 45-year-old former captain of Wales, among the few celebrities who revealed that they have a virus, said he decided to make public after receiving potentially blackmail emails threatening to reveal his status.

Thomas said he accelerated his training program after diagnosing it to counter stereotypes that people living with HIV are weak and sick.

"My ideas about people living with HIV have always been fragile, always weak," he admitted. "I wanted to display the opposite of this."

Thomas was limited to Wales 100 times in his international career in 1995-2007, and also captain of British and Irish lions in 2005.

The cover of his magazine was hailed by LGBT + and HIV defenders as a step forward in the fight against the stigma over the virus.

"What is a better way for Gareth to show how much HIV has changed than showing his muscles at the forefront of men's health?" Said Debbie Laycock, head of politics for the leading UK HIV / AIDS charity, Terrence Higgins Trust.

"Gareth has already done so much to change people's perception of the HIV diagnosis, and it's great to see him as the first person to openly live with HIV on the front page of a magazine, taking care of fitness and activity." (Reporting by Sonia Elks // news.trust.org)


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