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Royal Family rallies around rugby star Gareth Thomas after he’s forced to reveal his HIV status

Former pro-rugby player Gareth Thomas came out to the world as HIV-positive over the weekend, saying that he was forced to reveal his status after a British tabloid threatened to out him. And while the tabloid might be trash, at least he has the support of the British Royal Family.

“I am living with HIV,” the 45-year-old Welshman said in a video posted to social media over the weekend. “Now you have that information, that makes me extremely vulnerable, but it does not make me weak.”

Thomas, who came out as gay in 2009, will talk more about his diagnosis in an upcoming BBC Wales documentary that airs later this week.

The BBC reports, “The documentary shows Thomas’s anxiety and having to consult legal representatives after a tabloid newspaper found out about his HIV status. It led to journalists going to his parents’ home.”

Related: Tabloid ‘forces’ rugby player Gareth Thomas to come out as HIV-positive

Yesterday, Prince Harry took time away from his birthday celebration to voice his support for the rugby star to his 9 million Instagram followers.

“Gareth, you are an absolute legend!” Harry wrote. “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.”

The Duke of Sussex continued: “We should all be appalled by the way you were forced to speak your truth, it is yours and yours alone to share on your terms and I and millions stand with you.”

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“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. We should all be appalled by the way you were forced to speak your truth, it is yours and yours alone to share on your terms and I and millions stand with you.” – H • A lot of you will know who Gareth Thomas is, but many of you may not. This retired welsh rugby player, father, husband, role model – today revealed he is HIV positive. In his statement he shares: Hello, I’m Gareth Thomas ???????? and I want to share my secret with you. Why? Because it’s mine to tell you. Not the evils that make my life hell, threatening to tell you before I do. And because I believe in you, and I trust you. I am living with HIV. Now you have that information, that makes me extremely vulnerable, but it does not make me weak. Now even though I’ve been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight, to educate and break the stigma around this subject. And that begins today, when I take on the toughest Iron Man in the world in Tenby ??????? and I push myself physically to the limits. I’m asking you to help me to show that everyone lives in fear of people’s reactions and opinions, but that doesn’t mean we have to hide. But to do this, I really really need your support. @gareththomasofficial #YourRaceYourVictory Photo©?Rowan Griffiths/Sunday Mirror

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In less than 24 hours, the post has received nearly 200,000 likes and over 3,000 comments, the vast majority of which were supportive.

“Very honest and brave,” one commenter wrote. “Best wishes Gareth.”

“I support you Gareth!” another said. “Please remember that you have many loving and kind people hoping the best for you and your family. #NoStigma #NoShame.”

“Thank you for being so brave!” a third person commented. “#endthestigma.”

Prince Harry’s message came just a few hours after his older brother Prince William also spoke out in support of Thomas to his 10 million followers.

“Courageous as ever,” William wrote. “Legend on the pitch and legend off it. You have our support Gareth. -W.”

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Courageous as ever – legend on the pitch and legend off it. You have our support Gareth. W • Hello, I’m Gareth Thomas ???????? and I want to share my secret with you. Why? Because it’s mine to tell you. Not the evils that make my life hell, threatening to tell you before I do. And because I believe in you, and I trust you. I am living with HIV. Now you have that information, that makes me extremely vulnerable, but it does not make me weak. Now even though I’ve been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight, to educate and break the stigma around this subject. And that begins today, when I take on the toughest Iron Man in the world in Tenby ??????? and I push myself physically to the limits. I’m asking you to help me to show that everyone lives in fear of people’s reactions and opinions, but that doesn’t mean we have to hide. But to do this, I really really need your support. @gareththomasofficial #YourRaceYourVictory #cantpassiton

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Prince William’s post received a similar response, drawing over 150,000 likes and over 3,200 comments, most from people offering support.

After making the announcement, Thomas spent his weekend doing what anyone who recently came out at HIV-positive to the entire world might do… by completing the Ironman triathlon, which included a short 2.4-mile swim, a quick 112-mile bike ride, and a brisk 26.22-mile run. He was met at the finish line with cheers from thousands of supporters and a giant hug from his husband, Stephen.

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