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Gareth Thomas: Tabloids 'forced' Alfie to reveal HIV status

Gareth Thomas: Tabloids 'forced' Alfie to reveal HIV status

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Gareth Thomas reveals he is HIV positive
Former rugby player Gareth Thomas has said he would "absolutely not" have revealed his HIV status if a newspaper had not made threats to publish it.The ex-Wales captain made the announcement on Saturday, the day before finishing an Ironman triathlon.Thomas told BBC Wales the tabloids would "create their own law" and he did not have the money to fight them.It comes after cricketer Ben Stokes criticised the Sun for running a story about his family. Thomas - also known by his nickname Alfie - said keeping a secret had been the hardest part of the diagnosis.
He told BBC Radio Wales: "I've been living in fear of it being published," adding: "The tabloids will create their own law."You'll send them a letter and all they'll do is ignore it. I haven't got the money to be able to fight a giant tabloid in court."When they do it they'll somehow find justification for doing it. They'll say it's ok, a family member told us something."In a Twitter video, Thomas had said he was compelled to make the announcement after threats were made to him by "evils" to reveal his HIV status.
Gareth Thomas completing the triathlon in Tenby on Saturday
Asked if he would have spoken about his HIV status without the press involvement, he replied: "I would love to sit here and say yes but I'd be a hypocrite if I did."Absolutely not. It's got nothing to do with anyone else."He spoke out the day after Stokes called a front page story about his family "utterly disgusting" and "the lowest form of journalism".It had dealt with "deeply personal and traumatic events" that had affected his family in New Zealand more than 30 years ago.The Sun told the BBC it had received the co-operation of a family member.
Stokes condemns Sun story as 'heartless'
Ex-Wales rugby captain Thomas reveals he has HIV
Thomas 'breaks HIV stigma' at Ironman Wales
'Media ethics'
Damian Collins MP, chair of the parliamentary digital, culture, media and and sport committee, told BBC Wales: "I don't believe there is any public interest in putting people under that sort of pressure."Putting them in that sort of situation, I think that is a private matter... It should be entirely a decision for [Thomas] to take."
Ben Stokes said he was 'disgusted and appalled' by the Sun's story
Angela Phillips, professor of journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, who gave evidence at the Leveson inquiry into media ethics, said stories like those of Stokes and Thomas were a question of ethics rather than press freedom or the law.She told BBC 5Live: "We've now got ourselves into a situation in this country where our tabloid press, partly because of the internet and social media and the way of which stories now travel is that anything that brings in money is justifiable."They seem to have lost any sense of whether this story is going to do so much harm to the people whose background you're revealing that you shouldn't touch it with a barge pole."
'Absolute legend'
On Saturday, Thomas, a former British and Irish Lions rugby captain, said he wanted to show how people with HIV were misrepresented as needing walking sticks and "close to dying".The following day the 45-year-old, from Sarn, Bridgend, completed the gruelling Ironman in 12 hours and 18 minutes cheered on by crowds and with high emotion along the way.Since making the announcement, support for Thomas has flooded in.It has included a message from the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, on the social platform Instagram where he said: "Gareth, you are an absolute legend! In sharing your story of being HIV+, you are saving lives and shattering stigma, by showing you can be strong and resilient while living with HIV."Thomas tells his story in a documentary being screened on the BBC on Wednesday.Gareth Thomas: HIV and Me will be shown on BBC One Wales on Wednesday 18 September at 21:00 BST, and on the BBC iPlayer.
HIV & Aids
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