Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas has revealed that he is HIV positive.
Thomas, who came out as gay in 2009, shared the news in an interview with Britain’s Sunday Mirror, saying he wants to break the stigma around the condition.
Describing the moment he was diagnosed, Thomas recalled: “I went for a routine sexual health test at a private clinic in Cardiff. I didn’t feel ill and thought everything was going to be fine.
“When [the doctor] said those words … I immediately thought I was going to die. I felt like an express train was hitting me at 300 miles per hour. Then I was thinking ‘how long have I got left?’”
The former British and Irish Lions captain said he had been living with HIV secretly “for years”, and decided to reveal the news to relieve himself of the burden.
“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.
“I was in a dark place, feeling suicidal. I thought about driving off a cliff. To me, wanting to die was just a natural thought and felt like the easier way out, but you have to confront things.”
Thomas said his husband Stephen, who he met after his diagnosis and married in 2016, does not have the virus.
He went on to explain that his condition is managed by taking one pill a day containing four antiretroviral medications.
The virus is under control to the point that it is considered undetectable and cannot be passed on.
The former Cardiff Blues player – who in 2010 received the Hero of the Year Award from UK LGBT rights group, Stonewall – has been a hugely successful player in both rugby union and rugby league.
His 2009 coming out made him the world’s first openly gay professional rugby union player.
Thomas is due to speak further about living with HIV in a BBC Wales documentary to be broadcast on Wednesday.