Gareth Thomas is the picture of health.
Thomas, who revealed in September that he is HIV-positive, has now muscled his way on the cover of Men’s Health U.K.
The former Wales rugby star, who came out publicly as gay in 2009 and retired from the sport in 2011, was photographed for the December issue just weeks after making his HIV announcement.
Thank you @MensHealthUK . It’s a sign of where we are that a man LIVING with HIV is on the cover of Men’s Health. Thank you to everyone who works to ensure this happens for not just me, but millions of people. @THTorguk pic.twitter.com/bMm72psn6j
— Gareth Thomas (@gareththomas14) October 30, 2019
“It’s a sign of where we are that a man LIVING with HIV is on the cover of Men’s Health,” Thomas writes on social media. “Thank you to everyone who works to ensure this happens for not just me, but millions of people.”
“When I came out as gay, I always wanted to show a sign of strength, I’d always fight to be the strongest,” the 45-year-old athlete tells the magazine. “Then, when I decided that I was going to take control of my life, I felt I needed to show another side of me, as far as fitness goes. So, I took that fitness to another level, because my mental images of people living with HIV were always frail, always weak. I wanted to display the total opposite of that.”
.@gareththomas14 ex-rugby player, triathlete, 100% man and our new cover star talks true strength and what it takes to be tough. The former Welsh rugby captain opens up about the values that matter most. You can grab the new issue, and full feature , tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/sL7FMzpEHL
— Men's Health UK (@MensHealthUK) October 30, 2019
“Gareth now becomes the first sportsman living with HIV to grace the cover of Men’s Health,” writes editor Toby Wiseman. “But this is no mere footnote. I made the decision to approach Gareth with the offer of a cover profile because, soon after he made his bold announcement in September, it struck me that he symbolises a positive, thought-provoking change in the way our culture now perceives masculinity.”
Thomas revealed in September he was being blackmailed by a tabloid newspaper that had learned of his HIV diagnosis. He credited a “strong support system” for helping him survive this emotional period, including his husband, Stephen.
The December issue of Men’s Health UK is on shelves today https://t.co/9kmeBaGFAp
— Men's Health UK (@MensHealthUK) October 31, 2019
The Proud author, who now receives regular counseling, said he takes antiretroviral medication and that the virus is undetectable.
Thomas, an ITV pundit for the Rugby World Cup, recently competed in the Wales Ironman event. He is also the subject of a BBC documentary, Gareth Thomas: HIV and Me.
Last year Thomas was beaten in a homophobic attack. He decided not to press charges, instead asking his assailant for an apology.