The Gareth Thomas case proves it: no one wins when an HIV transmission fight goes to court | James Greig

A civil case brought by the former rugby star’s ex-partner has played into discussions of what stance – if any – the law should take on HIV

Few public figures alive today have done more to reduce the stigma around HIV than Gareth Thomas. Since he declared his status in 2019 (saying he had been forced to, following threats of blackmail by a tabloid newspaper), the former rugby player has campaigned to promote better understanding of the virus.

It’s regrettable that such a popular figurehead recently found himself at the centre of a legal controversy. Last week, it was announced that Thomas had settled a case brought by his ex-partner, Ian Baum, who in a civil claim accused Thomas of hiding his HIV status while they were a couple between 2013 and 2016. Baum alleged that Thomas “deceptively” transmitted the virus to Baum, hiding his HIV medication and “coercing” him into unprotected sex. While agreeing to pay a settlement of £75,000, Thomas made no admission of liability or guilt, and has always denied that he gave Baum HIV. However, he has confirmed that he did not tell Baum about his HIV status because he “genuinely and reasonably” believed that it was undetectable at the time because his viral load was so low that the virus could not be passed on. He acknowledges now that this belief was mistaken.

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