Gareth Thomas admits he didn’t tell his former partner he had HIV

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Gareth Thomas – known as Alfie – has countered claims that he hid his HIV status from his ex partner

Former Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas has responded to claims that he hid his HIV status from his ex partner by saying it wasn’t initially brought up during their relationship and he was never asked.

Ian Baum is suing Mr Thomas – also known as Alfie – for £150,000 in damages after claiming he hid his HIV status from him and failed to take reasonable care to ensure he did not pass it on. In his defence documents, submitted to the High Court, Mr Thomas accuses his ex of sleeping around and having lied about already having HIV when they they began their relationship in October 2013.

Mr Baum has accused the ex-British and Irish Lions captain of removing labels from his HIV medication and of using controlling and coercive behaviour to stop his HIV status from being disclosed.

Mr Thomas denies all allegations in a 15-page document which states the couple did not have penetrative sex for the first four months of their relationship because he had an injury.

Mr Thomas’ defence says: “It is denied that the defendant deliberately concealed his positive status, he was never asked by the claimant if he was HIV positive, and he never denied that he was.” However, it adds: “It is admitted that the claimant did not expressly consent to the risk of HIV transmission from the defendant.”

Mr Baum’s case states that he was made aware of his positive HIV status after a test in May 2014. which he took after finding “a large pill marked GSK1 on the bedroom floor” of the Berkshire home where the couple were staying. When he searched Google Mr Baum claims he discovered it was anti-viral HIV medication.

“As a result of this information, the claimant immediately made an appointment for an HIV test and went that very day to the Garden Clinic in Slough,” the claimant papers allege. “He took a rapid HIV test and was given the test result that same day. The test result was positive and the claimant was devastated. He went into immediate shock and called the defendant for an explanation.”

However, Mr Thomas says that his pills were marked GSI on one side, with the number 1 on the other, and: “Googling GSK1 would not have returned the answer that this was an anti-viral HIV medication.”

Mr Baum claims Mr Thomas was “very repentant and apologetic” over the phone. He claims that only Mr Thomas could be responsible because “until the point of the positive test in May 2014, the claimant had been wholly monogamous in his relationship with the defendant”. Mr Thomas denies such a phone call ever took place. You can read our full report on the claimant case here.

However, Mr Thomas’ case states that an earlier negative HIV test taken in November 2013, which allegedly proved Mr Baum was negative, was not in fact in his name and was instead that of his partner, Ian France.

Mr Thomas said while he knew he had the virus, he did not think he was able to pass it on.

“The defendant genuinely and reasonably believed that he could not transmit the condition to others whilst his CD4 count (a measure of immune function) was not at a dangerous level requiring medication,” his defence states. “Whilst the defendant understands now that this was incorrect, it was a genuinely held belief at the material time.”

Mr Thomas’s defence case accuses Mr Baum of being promiscuous and claims he was “blasé” about catching HIV when Mr Thomas did reveal his own status, “his attitude being that he was bound to get HIV sooner or later”.

The couple, who moved into a new home together in Bridgend on June 22, 2014. Mr Thomas’ case states: “The Defendant considered his HIV status a private matter and not one which the general public had an entitlement to know about. It is denied that the Defendant deceptively transmitted HIV to the Claimant.”

It adds: “It is agreed that in the period August 2014 to April 2015 the relationship was volatile and unpredictable but it is averred that this was because the Claimant was volatile and unpredictable. It is denied there was psychological manipulation of the Claimant by the Defendant.” Their relationship ended “in or around January 2016”.

The Terrence Higgins Trust issued a statement on the case which stated: “While it would be inappropriate to comment on the details of ongoing legal proceedings, we have read Gareth’s detailed defence of the claims against him…There are no winners when it comes to legal proceedings around HIV transmission. It results in misinformation being shared and stigmatising language being used, which only serves to push us back in our fight to tackle the deeply entrenched stigma still surrounding HIV.”

The case is due to be heard in the High Court.

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