Rugby star Gareth Thomas ‘spat at in the street and called a f*king AIDS spreader’

Gareth Thomas unzips his green jacket ahead of his Tour De Trophy challenge

Gay Rugby star and outspoken HIV advocate Gareth Thomas said he was spat at in the street after allegations of spreading HIV to his ex emerged.

The former athlete was accused of “deceptively transmitting HIV” to his former partner Ian Baum in a lawsuit filed in August. The legal document alleges that Thomas was taking medication in unmarked bottles during their relationship in 2013 but told Baum the pills were vitamins.

Baum said in the lawsuit that he had tested negative for HIV during the early stages of their relationship and claimed that there was no one else he could have contracted it from. After hearing about the planned lawsuit, Thomas allegedly pressured him not to take legal action.

“That information, had it become publicly known, would have been extremely damaging to the defendant’s public reputation as a person who had spoken out about his homosexuality and LGBT issues,” the document read. “Since that time the defendant has portrayed himself as a spokesperson for HIV without ever disclosing that he deceptively transmitted HIV to the claimant in 2014.”

Now, in a Twitter thread detailing the former Welsh captain’s grievances after the lawsuit was filed, Thomas has claimed that, much like when he was forced to expose his HIV status, he has been “forced to come forward again today.”

“Since the meritless allegations surfaced, I have endured a challenging torrent of abuse both online and in person,” Thomas said. “I’ve been spat at in the street, called a ‘f**king AIDS spreader,’ told I should be locked up, that I should die, and much worse.

“That being said, I also feel extremely fortunate and I want to thank people for the incredible wave of support they have shown me both personally and professionally at this time. It has been empowering.”

He added that he feels comfortable in his position and that “my defence speaks for itself,” vowing to fight the allegations head-on, adding: “I am proud of who I am. I am far from perfect, but I am also far from the person I’m accused of being.”

Gareth Thomas also reassured those concerned that his HIV advocacy would go “undeterred” during the proceedings of the lawsuit “with the same passion as always,” adding a love heart at the end.

The star was forced to reveal his HIV-positive status to the public in 2019 after a publication threatened to do it for him. Since then, Thomas has become a staunch activist for HIV awareness, saying he wanted to “break the stigma” around people living with HIV.

“Now you have that information, that makes me extremely vulnerable – but it does not make me weak,” he said. “Even though I’ve been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight and educate to break the stigma around this subject and that begins today.”

He told the Chris Evans’ Breakfast Show in 2021 that he felt as though he became the “property” of the blackmailers but was thankful of the support he received.

“Every time a car pulled up outside the house, every time there was a knock on the door, I was petrified because of who may be sitting in a car taking a picture,” he said. “Who’s knocking on our door telling me they’re going to print the story or another revelation.

“But I realised… fear in your life is ever-present, but the best part of fear is overcoming it because you only really realise who you are or what you’re fearful of on the other side.”