Welsh rugby hero and HIV campaigner Gareth Thomas is being sued in Britain’s High Court for allegedly “deceptively” transmitting HIV to a former partner.
Rugby star Gareth Thomas has strongly denied allegations of “failing to take reasonable care” not to pass on HIV to a former partner.
Thomas, 48, came out as gay in 2009 and publicly revealed his HIV-positive status in 2019, going on to become a dedicated activist and campaigner for HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention.
Ex Ian Baum has filed a legal claim alleging that the former Welsh international hid his HIV status when the pair were a couple then, knowing he was carrying the virus, “failing to take reasonable care” to ensure that he did not pass on the infection, per Sunday Times.
He has accused Thomas in the High Court of ‘assault, battery, infliction of intentional harm and negligence’, reports say.
The two are said to have shared an “on-off relationship” from 2013 to 2018 and Baum claims that he noticed the rugby player taking pills from an unmarked bottle when they first started dating, but was told they were vitamin tablets.
Baum further alleges he had tested negative for HIV when the two began their relationship and that there was no one else he could have contracted HIV from. Additionally that Thomas tried to cover up this alleged “deception”, and had pressured him into keeping quiet.
In the court documents, Mr Baum alleges that Mr Thomas lied to him ‘about his HIV status and had coerced the claimant into having unprotected sexual intercourse when he knew that by doing so he was putting the claimant at risk of contracting HIV’.
The filing states: “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.”
“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.”
Daily Mail reports Thomas strongly denies the allegations and is expected to file a ‘robust defence’, with a source close to the star describing the claim as a ‘work of fiction’.
Baum is reportedly seeking a six-figure sum in damages, for serious physical and psychological injury, including alcohol dependence, depression, and loss of life expectancy.
Thomas’ legal team have until September to file a defence and The Sunday Times reports his lawyers have evidence in the form of a handwritten note from the claimant, sent in 2016, allegedly saying “I lied – I already had HIV. Give this to your solicitor.”
Thomas, 48, is thought to be the first major British sports star to share his HIV-positive status publicly, and has since campaigned for and worked alongside HIV charities to help battle stigma and educate about prevention.
When Thomas shared his HIV status, as of 2019, the rugby star is said to have been undetectable (U=U) – meaning it cannot be passed on as long as the person is taking the correct medication. It’s not known how long that had been the case.
At the time of sharing his status with the world, Thomas said: “I had a fear people would judge me and treat me like a leper because of a lack of knowledge”, then saying, “I was in a dark place, feeling suicidal. I thought about driving off a cliff.”
Thomas has yet to make public comment on the allegations.
If you’re concerned about sexual health matters and you’re in the UK, click here. If you’re in the US, click here. Regular testing for sexually active people is always advised, even if you have no symptoms.