Did we have to have this cliche?

Former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas has revealed that he is HIV positive, declaring via Twitter that he wants to “break the stigma” around the condition.

The first out international sportsman – and thereby rugby player – is HIV positive?

16 comments on “Did we have to have this cliche?

  1. Is there even a “stigma” around HIV/AIDS? Those natty little red ribbons you can wear to signal your HIVirtue came out about 30 years ago. Tom Hanks was shamelessly oscarbaiting all over the silver screen in PHILADELPHIA in 1993. Magic Johnson is still alive and a respected celebrity.

    Is Gareth Thomas communicating with us from 1992 via the phone in the TARDIS, or do they really still point at aeroplanes in Wales, or is this performative stunning-and-braveness all phoney baloney bullshit?

  2. Have a heart , for Gareth Thomas this must have been a horrible experience . Funnily enough I am just off with my boys who pay at various levels of rugby ( I was of course much better ) .
    I think the atmosphere around rugby clubs is very different today but you forget how quickly this has happened

  3. Not quite sure why people would like to advertise the fact.
    Who knew that Welsh rugby stars were attention whores with PR people?
    Mebbe he saw ‘Newport State of Mind” on youtube and felt the urge to recreate ‘Philadelphia’ , but with extra sheep, and as every fule kno, first step is to generate some publicity…

  4. Think even in trendy modern progressive London there’s some stigma attached to being “poz”, despite more people being aware of U=U (undetectable viral load = untransmissible) and the rise of PrEP making transmission easier to protect against. Some of it is pretty ingrained in the culture/language, eg if you don’t have it you’re “clean” so if you do are you “dirty”? (This is related to why the preferred word is “positive” not “infected”.) If you admit it, people tend to make various assumptions about how you got it and implicit in that is that it’s your “fault” you’re positive. And for a lot of people, being with someone positive is a big turn-off – harder for a positive straight woman to find a husband, awkward (plus fear of rejection) for a gay guy to explain his status during or while negotiating a sexual encounter.

  5. Anon – If you admit it, people tend to make various assumptions about how you got it and implicit in that is that it’s your “fault” you’re positive.

    Well… he probably didn’t get it from a dodgy blood transfusion, eh? It’s kind of like when smokers get lung cancer, no? People are generally sympathetic, but also reckon it’s probably a bad idea to ignore health warnings.

    And for a lot of people, being with someone positive is a big turn-off – harder for a positive straight woman to find a husband, awkward (plus fear of rejection) for a gay guy to explain his status during or while negotiating a sexual encounter.

    Is this a stigma, or just a rational aversion to life-threatening diseases? Not wanting to shag someone who could give you an incurable virus isn’t quite the same as making them live in leper colonies or Wrexham.

    This is related to why the preferred word is “positive” not “infected”

    It’s kind of like how it used to be called the Spastic Society and then they changed the name to “Scope”. Doesn’t really matter what word you use, nobody wants to get on a plane and hear “This is your captain speaking and we’re flying at an altitude of potato”, do they?

  6. The first out international sportsman

    Not by a long shot, and not the first with HIV/AIDS either. Greg Louganis comes to mind.

  7. Steve,

    It’s kind of like when smokers get lung cancer, no? People are generally sympathetic, but…

    I reckon you get more sympathy for being gay & HIV+ than for being a smoker with lung cancer. Try asking a crowd of people whether smokers should be denied lung cancer treatment on the NHS, and you’ll get a sizeable minority in favour. Ask the same for gays and HIV treatment, and you’ll barely hear a murmur.

    Look how far we’ve come, sure, but have we been travelling in the right direction?

  8. Any one trying to deny medical treatment–for what the NHS’s shit is worth–on the grounds of Marxist virtu-sig needs to be rapidly put in need of extensive medical treatment.

  9. given how it became part of the public conscious in the 80’s it’s amazing the progress made in treating HIV.
    It’s not that long ago it was a death sentence, may wife reckons she cared for hundreds of HIV positive during her years in ICU, so attitudes will take time to shift.

  10. “break the stigma”

    I don’t get this sort of thinking. The stigma is that you have a highly lethal and contagious disease that the rest of us would really prefer to not contract. In the past there would have been a stigma – ignored by the gay community – attached to the sort of actions (unprotected, promiscuous sex and careless intravenous drug use) that increased your chances of spreading this disease. The gay community *embraced* those stigma and that set of actions damn near alone ended the AIDs epidemic.

    The other day I was reading a comment elsewhere where someone says a UBI would ‘remove the stigma’ around welfare – but *we want taking welfare* to be seen as a bad thing. Charity (and welfare isn’t charity) should be a last resort, not normalized.

    There are plenty of things that have stigma attached to them for good reasons.

  11. Steve,

    From Doug Stanhope:

    “The thing with the word ‘retarded’ is that ‘retarded’ is not like other epithets, it was not a word of hatred; retarded was the medical definition, was actually a word actually born in sensitivity. Cause they used to call them, before retarded was the word, doctors would use ‘imbecile’ or ‘moron.’ This is something a smart fuck at Harvard has labelled ‘The Euphemism Treadmill’: moron and imbecile were the correct terms for a while, and what happened is we co-opted those words to call our friend when he does something incredibly stupid, to the point where it became an insult. So out of sensitivity, they changed the word to ‘retarded’… and what happened was we co-opted that word to call our friend when he does something incredibly stupid. So you can keep changing the word, and if you make the new one stick that’s what I’m going to call my friend. “Did you just put a metal plate in a microwave? What are you, developmentally disabled? You don’t fucking put a metal plate in a microwave, who doesn’t know that?” You can make it as difficult to pronounce and Latin-based and medical-rooted, and if you make it stick that’s the new word I’m going to call my friend when he trips over his own shoelaces: “Ha ha! You just exhibited some of the atlantoaxial instability that is usually associated with the trisomie 21 genetic imbalance!”

  12. I died hear a rumour that Thomas ‘came out’ about being HIV positive following a blackmail attempt. Whether this is true or not, it says a lot about those who are willing to seek to make money out of personal medical circumstances. Let’s hope the person, if he or she exists, is named and shamed in turn.

  13. Quote edited to bring it into the 21st century:

    Former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas has revealed that they is HIV positive, declaring via Twitter that they wants to “break the stigma” around the condition.

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