OPINION : GARETH THOMAS FORCED TO SHARE HIV STATUS
Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you would have seen Gareth Thomas’s, former Welsh rugby captain, emotional post about his HIV status on Saturday 14th September. Gareth Thomas, nicknamed “Alfie“, is a former professional Welsh and British & Irish Lions rugby international.
“Even though I have been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight, to educate and break the stigma around this subject.” – Gareth Thomas
You would think that in this day and age that forcing people to reveal their sexuality or HIV status would be taboo. It clearly isn’t, and that is what’s so sad and disappointing. If you’re sleeping with someone for the first time, you should be playing safe in the first place. If the person happens to share their status with you, that’s not them granting you permission to broadcast it. Just like when you find out that someone you know is gay, doesn’t give you any right to be publicising it either.
It’s appalling that, as humans, we thrive on the downfall of others, or should that be at the thought of the downfall of those who reject or hurt us. I admire and respect Gareth Thomas for taking back his truth, taking the power away from the blackmailer who meant to harm him and his family by revealing his status. Instead though by revealing his status himself, Gareth Thomas owned the moment and used it to educate the public about managing HIV. He shared how, by taking daily medication (ARVs) and having an undetectable viral load, he cannot pass on the virus.
“…even though I have been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight, to educate and break the stigma around this subject.” – Gareth Thomas
— Gareth Thomas (@gareththomas14) September 14, 2019
In an unbelievable turn of events, Gareth has received incredible support following his HIV status reveal from so many individuals including HRH Prince Harry, David Furnish and Elton John.
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“Gareth, you are an absolute legend! In sharing your story of being HIV+, you are saving lives and shattering stigma, by showing you can be strong and resilient while living with HIV. We should all be appalled by the way you were forced to speak your truth, it is yours and yours alone to share on your terms and I and millions stand with you.” – H • A lot of you will know who Gareth Thomas is, but many of you may not. This retired welsh rugby player, father, husband, role model – today revealed he is HIV positive. In his statement he shares: Hello, I’m Gareth Thomas 🏉🏴 and I want to share my secret with you. Why? Because it’s mine to tell you. Not the evils that make my life hell, threatening to tell you before I do. And because I believe in you, and I trust you. I am living with HIV. Now you have that information, that makes me extremely vulnerable, but it does not make me weak. Now even though I’ve been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight, to educate and break the stigma around this subject. And that begins today, when I take on the toughest Iron Man in the world in Tenby 🏴 and I push myself physically to the limits. I’m asking you to help me to show that everyone lives in fear of people’s reactions and opinions, but that doesn’t mean we have to hide. But to do this, I really really need your support. @gareththomasofficial #YourRaceYourVictory Photo©️Rowan Griffiths/Sunday Mirror
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Dear Gareth, Thank-you for courageously sharing your HIV-positive status with the world. You are a shining example of someone living a full, healthy and happy life with HIV. Good luck with today’s Ironman Wales competition. Elton and I are cheering you on. The world needs more heroes like you. Love, David @gareththomasofficial @ejaf
Gareth Thomas says by speaking out publicly about being HIV positive, he hopes to help end the stigma around the condition. Other celebrities that are embracing their HIV status and using their social status to educate the public on HIV transmission and the dangers of unprotected sex include Magic Johnson, Charlie Sheen, Thabang Sefatsa (Former Roses FC and Tigers FC player) and Criselda Kananda (Radio DJ) amongst a host of others.
“Our society has made this virus a monster and all it is, is a virus. I’m doing this for the voiceless people out there who just found out today, and know that I‘ve got their backs.” – Lesego Motsepe (World Aids Day in 2011), 28 April 1974 – 20 January 2014
photo source: stuff.co.nz