Thomas, 45, takes daily treatment for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), which means his condition is undetectable and cannot be passed on.
He opened up about being a sufferer yesterday in a moving video shared on social media, speaking of his “shame” surrounding the HIV diagnosis.
“I’ve been living with this secret for years. I’ve felt shame and keeping such a big secret has taken its toll,” he said, confessing that he was in “a dark place” and had had suicidal thoughts.
“Many people live in fear and shame of having HIV, but I refuse to be one of them now. We need to break the stigma once and for all. I’m speaking out because I want to help others and make a difference.”
Now the former sporting star will team up with Prince Harry to fulfil his goal of helping other HIV sufferers.
“Like me, Prince Harry wants to break the stigma around HIV and he has already done a lot of great work,” Thomas told the Sunday Mirror. “We are planning to work together now. To do something with him will be really powerful.”
While the exact nature of the upcoming partnership is yet to be revealed, it was hinted at in an Instagram post shared on Sussex Royal, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s official page, yesterday.
Harry, who celebrated his 35th birthday on Sunday, called Gareth “an absolute legend”.
Prince Harry has previously done much to raise awareness surrounding HIV and AIDs. Last November, during National HIV Testing Week, Harry said in a video that people should be proud to take the test.
“Taking an HIV test is something to be proud of – not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about,” he said. “As much as you protect yourself at this time of year from illnesses and viruses like cold and flu, you can also protect your health by taking an HIV test.”
A fact sheet on the website for Terrence Higgins Trust, a charity that spreads awareness on HIV and sexual health, says: “People on effective HIV treatment cannot pass on the virus. We want to share this message far and wide.”
Princess Diana’s role in ending HIV and Aids stigma
Harry is continuing a legacy begun by his late mother, Princess Diana, who worked with HIV sufferers before her death in 1997.
Princess Diana helped to change the world’s attitude towards HIV and Aids when she opened the UK’s first purpose-built HIV/Aids unit at London Middlesex Hospital in 1987.
There, in front of photographers, and without gloves on, she shook the hand of a man who suffered from Aids. The gesture, coming a time when there was a huge lack of understanding surrounding the disease’s nature, made a clear public statement that it was not passed in through touch.
Diana is also said to have made secret visits to HIV and Aids patients during the 1980s and 1990s.
For further information surrounding HIV or Aids, or to request a free test, visit the Terence Higgins Trust website.