Rugby legend Gareth Thomas bidding to end stigma with Tackle HIV initiative

20200623 Copyright BeatMedia TackleHIV media day with Gareth Thomas - Bridgend Photographer: James Robinson /
20200623 Copyright BeatMedia TackleHIV media day with Gareth Thomas – Bridgend Photographer: James Robinson /

One pill a day is all it takes for Gareth Thomas to know that he can not transmit HIV in any manner, writes Paul Eddison.

The remedy is straightforward, non-invasive and permits the previous Wales rugby captain to reside a traditional, wholesome, comfortable life.

And but in accordance with a latest survey, fewer than one in 5 persons are conscious that with efficient remedy these residing with HIV can not cross it on to their sexual accomplice.

That survey of 4000 individuals was undertaken by Sort out HIV, a brand new initiative launched by former Wales rugby captain Thomas in affiliation with ViiV Healthcare to enhance public understanding of HIV and break the stigma that surrounds it.

For Thomas that is about training. Not educating these with HIV, however everybody else.

He explains: “We nonetheless reside in a society and a world the place stigma holds again individuals with the ability to be trustworthy about residing with HIV.

“As a result of the reality is, I reside with HIV, I take a single pill day by day. I’m on efficient remedy which means I can’t transmit HIV in any manner, form or kind.

“I reside my life with HIV with no limitations. I’m not saying that individuals who stigmatise are unsuitable and will know higher, as a result of I had my very own stigma. After I came upon I used to be residing with HIV, I believed I used to be going to die.

“I’m not shouting at individuals, I’m simply telling them we will create a greater atmosphere if all people knew the state of affairs of how far science and drugs has come within the final 20-odd years since we watched that horrific advert and the tombstone telling all people that HIV and AIDS is a killer.”

There’s something bitterly ironic in regards to the advert to which Thomas refers: the ‘Don’t Die of Ignorance’ marketing campaign that includes the enduring voice of the late John Harm.

Persons are solely too conscious of the risks of HIV and AIDS. The issue is the ignorance of simply how far the drugs has progressed in treating the virus. It’s for that cause the stigma surrounding HIV nonetheless exists, and why Thomas is so determined to lift consciousness.

“I used to be any individual who felt they have been educated on this,” says Thomas, who introduced he was residing with HIV final September.

“However the reality is, there has virtually been this underground motion of science and drugs within the final 20 years, and it has not been publicised.

“After I came upon about remedy and the way efficient it may very well be, and the way non-invasive, that I simply need to take one pill a day, as soon as I realised that I may reside a traditional, wholesome, comfortable life, I type of got here to phrases with it rather a lot simpler.”

Thomas readily admits that he enjoys a privileged place in terms of residing with HIV, partly as a result of he has educated these near him about what it actually means to be in his state of affairs.

The 45-year-old can be conscious that others have a a lot more durable time of it and that’s the reason this implies a lot to him.

“It could be straightforward to be egocentric and say I’ve come out the opposite finish and my combat is over, nevertheless it’s not. My combat is over when all people is ready to come out the opposite finish,” he mentioned.

There are different leads to the survey that stand out: greater than 60% of the individuals surveyed mentioned they might or would possibly finish their relationship in the event that they came upon their accomplice was HIV constructive. Notably poignant for Thomas is the truth that greater than a 3rd of those that play contact sports activities say they might not play in opposition to an opponent residing with HIV.

For a person who was at one time Wales’ all-time report look maker and the nation’s all-time try-scorer, to not point out a Lions captain, that response got here as a shock.

Thomas needs to succeed in as many individuals as potential as a result of he is aware of that lots of those that perpetuate this stigma usually are not dangerous individuals.

He concludes: “For me, the purpose is to get as many individuals conscious of the actual fact there’s a stigma round HIV, and in the event that they know it, they will do one thing about breaking it. I would like this to succeed in as many individuals as potential.

“I’m not telling individuals what determination they need to make or how they need to reside their lives, however they should make an informed determination earlier than they’re prejudiced.

“If they’ve an informed understanding of HIV, and are nonetheless prejudiced, then they don’t seem to be very good individuals. However a number of good persons are doing it as a result of they don’t perceive. I would like as many individuals to be as educated about this as potential.”

Sort out HIV, a brand new marketing campaign led by Gareth Thomas in partnership with ViiV Healthcare and the Terrence Higgins Belief, goals to deal with the stigma and misunderstanding round HIV. For extra data go to and comply with @tacklehiv

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