Former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas has broken down in tears on UK TV revealing how a newspaper blackmailed him into coming clean about his HIV diagnosis.
The 45-year-old revealed at the weekend that he had been blackmailed prior to publicly announcing he had HIV.
Thomas, who completed a 140-mile Ironman triathlon on Sunday, hopes to remove some of the stigma over the disease in a BBC documentary to be aired on Wednesday.
However, he said he felt forced into a corner after a journalist told his parents of his condition before he did.
"I would love to sit here and say yes, but I'd be a hypocrite if I did,” said Thomas when asked if he would have gone public without the intrusion into his private life.
“Absolutely not. It's got nothing to do with anyone else.
"I can never have that moment back to sit down with them and be able to explain to them why their son is going to be OK and is going to be able to live through this and live a normal, healthy life.
"That person came and took that moment away from me."
Questions asked about UK press
Thomas's comments come the day after England cricketer Ben Stokes branded a front page story in The Sun newspaper about his family "utterly disgusting" and "the lowest form of journalism".
Both stories have revived the debate surrounding British press ethics.
"The tabloids will create their own law," added Thomas.
"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."
Thomas, who retired from professional rugby in 2011, said living with HIV has little impact on his day-to-day life given the advances in medicine other than taking a single pill every day and visiting the hospital for blood tests every six months.
This is heart wrenching. Gareth Thomas says that a journalist found out he is HIV positive and told his parents, before even he could. If journalists were treated like doctors, you would get struck off for behaviour like that.pic.twitter.com/dH83Ek2CNF— Benjamin Butterworth (@benjaminbutter) September 18, 2019
This has moved me close to tears. Extraordinarily wicked for a gutter journalist to reveal this deeply personal story to Gareth Thomas' parents before he had the chance. I want to live in a country where this can’t happen. https://t.co/aqmxUjaipG— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) September 18, 2019
I'm as inspired by @gareththomas14's courage as I am sickened that a journalist could even contemplate doing this, let alone look at themselves in the mirror ever again.— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) September 18, 2019
This, and Ben Stokes, again underline that the media urgently needs systemic change. https://t.co/8qRa0Hdf8F
Difficult to relay in a tweet how angry treatment of @gareththomas14 makes me feel. Journalism? No. This is appalling, inexcusable, parasitic, behaviour normalised by the popularity of the tabloid press in the UK. Time to call it out. Time to break it down... https://t.co/BT52uvqBGF— Ben Cottam (@TheCottam) September 18, 2019
48 hours in UK gutter journalism:— Hesh Zak (@HeshamZakai) September 18, 2019
- Publish a despicable story about Ben Stokes’s family’s tragedy
- Tell Gareth Thomas’s parents that he was HIV positive before he could
- Out a distraught father who challenged the PM on the state of the NHS, knowing he would then be harassed