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Gareth Thomas to team up with Prince Harry to break HIV stigma | UK News

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Prince Harry is to join forces with Gareth Thomas to help end the stigma of HIV, continuing the work his mother first did three decades ago.

Thomas, 45, revealed over the weekend that he was diagnosed as HIV positive, but through treatment, the virus is undetectable and will not pass it on to his husband.

He then went on to complete a gruelling Ironman competition in Tenby,

Following his dramatic revelation, Prince Harry and his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, offered their support to him.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 24: (L-R) Sir Elton John, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and David Furnish attend the Launch of the Menstar Coalition To Promote HIV Testing & Treatment of Men on July 24, 2018 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for EJAF)
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Sir Elton John with Prince Harry and Sir Elton’s husband David Furnish campaign for HIV diagnoses

The Duke of Sussex will now partner up with Thomas to work together to raise awareness of HIV and the current methods of treatment.

Thomas told the Mirror: “Like me, Prince Harry wants to break the stigma around HIV and he has already done a lot of great work.

“We are planning to work together now. To do something with him will be really powerful.”

TENBY, WALES - SEPTEMBER 15:  Former Welsh rugby International captain Gareth Thomas (R) reacts after finishing Ironman Wales on September 15, 2019 in Tenby, Wales. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
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Gareth Thomas celebrates crossing the line at Ironman

In the 1980s, Diana, Princess of Wales, was photographed shaking hands with a man who was HIV positive. The photo had a powerful impact at a time when many people believed HIV could be contracted through touch.

Now, Harry is continuing in his mother’s footsteps.

Thomas added: “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.

“It also makes me realise how lucky I am because I see what it was like for them and I know 30 years ago that could have been me.”

Diana's photo in 1987 helped changed public perception of HIV and Aids
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Diana’s photo in 1987 helped changed public perception of HIV and Aids

Harry was one of several celebrities to take a public HIV test in 2016 and launched the MenStar campaign with Sir Elton John, which aims to expand the diagnoses and treatments of HIV infections in men “with the aim of ultimately ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030”.

Thomas, who is Wales’s second highest all-time try scorer, came out as gay in 2009. He told the Mirror he had received support in his HIV diagnosis from Sir Elton, as well as friends Samantha Womack, Jonny Wilkinson, and Andy Bell.



The rugby legend took part after the revelation in the Ironman challenge Pic: ATHENA PICTURES



Gareth Thomas competes in Ironman Wales

Prince William called Thomas “courageous as ever” while international referee Nigel Owns said he was “brave” and Dame Kelly Holmes called him a “legend”.

The former Wales and Lions captain completed Ironman on Sunday soon after news of his diagnosis broke. He was tearful as he crossed the line, with scores of people cheering him on over the finish.

He completed the 2.4-mile swim in Carmarthen Bay in under an hour-and-a-half, then did a six-and-a-half hour, 112-mile bike ride across south Pembrokeshire, before running a 26.2-mile marathon in four hours and 17 minutes.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14:  Prince Harry has blood taken by Specialist Psychotherapist Robert Palmer as he takes an HIV test during a visit to Burrell Street Sexual Health Clinic on July 14, 2016 in London, England. Prince Harry was visiting the clinic, run by Guy's and St Thomas NHS Foundation to promote the importance of getting tested for HIV and other STDs.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
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Prince Harry taking a public blood test in 2016

He finished in 12 hours, 18 minutes and 29 seconds, coming 413th out of 2,039 participants.

He spoke of his diagnosis in an interview with the Sunday Mirror – before revealing in a video on his Twitter page that he had been “forced” to make the admission.

“I’ve been threatened by people who said they would give away my secret. It’s sick and I’ve been through hell,” he told the paper.

“I was being blackmailed and in my mind I thought you only get blackmailed for something really bad, which compounded the feeling of shame.”



Gareth Thomas has revealed he has HIV and was 'forced' to make it public



‘I’ve been forced to tell you this’

In the video he said: “I want to share my secret with you. Why? Because it’s mine to tell. Not the evils threatening to tell you before I do.

“Now even though I’ve been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight to educate.”

His husband Stephen, whom he met after being diagnosed, does not have HIV.

About 101,600 people in the UK live with HIV but there is still a lot of stigma around the illness.

HIV can progress to AIDS if it is not treated, but most patients in wealthy countries do not develop AIDS if they get treatment.

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