Wales

Prince Harry praises Gareth Thomas for HIV stigma battle

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Media captionGareth Thomas tells Prince Harry he is now able to live "an amazing life" with his husband

Rugby star Gareth Thomas has been praised by Prince Harry after speaking about how his HIV diagnosis inspired him to educate others.

The former Wales captain told the Duke of Sussex everyone should know their status to "normalise testing" and that the virus was not a "death sentence".

Prince Harry said what he was doing was "amazing".

It comes after Thomas was "compelled" to reveal he was HIV positive after threats were made to him by "evils".

Thomas, who came out as gay in 2009, is thought to be the first UK sportsman to go public about living with the virus.

He told the prince his own knowledge of HIV was stuck in the 1980s and he thought he had been given a death sentence, but he now wants to show there is life after an HIV diagnosis.

"We do so much around our health - going to the dentist, going to the doctor," he said.

"But when it comes to sexual health testing there's the stigma and fear around it.

"We need to re-educate people to know that where we are now with HIV it is not a death sentence, it's not and I am living proof."

Image copyright Terrence Higgins Trust
Image caption Gareth Thomas says the moment of his HIV diagnosis inspired him to help educate others

Ahead of his meeting with the duke, charities Terrence Higgins Trust and the National Aids Trust announced Thomas as a commissioner on the first ever HIV Commission to end HIV transmissions by 2030.

Thomas, from Sarn in Bridgend, said: "I have a new purpose now. I want to do whatever I can to remove the fear people have about testing for HIV and just do it.

"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."

During their interview, the pair discussed how the rugby community can help reduce the stigma by calling on rugby players to be tested.

Prince Harry told Thomas: "I believe in what you're doing, it's amazing."

The interview was conducted as part of a new film released by the Terrence Higgins Trust to mark National HIV Testing Week, which starts on Saturday.

In the video which was filmed in the stands at the Twickenham Stoop - home of the rugby club Harlequins - Thomas told Prince Harry the moment he received his HIV diagnosis inspired him to educate others about the realities of the virus.

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