Former rugby international Gareth Thomas’s decision to come out as HIV-positive could transform the sports star into a role model for millions of people living with the virus, HIV/AIDS groups said on Monday. Ash Kotak, who leads the AIDSMemoryUK Campaign to establish a national tribute to HIV/AIDS in Britain, said Thomas’s reputation as a successful sportsman could provide a role model for the public to gain a greater understanding of the issue. “It does a lot of good, as he’s someone we feel very connected to as we’ve seen so much of him in the media as this great sportsman playing rugby, which is the archetypal manly sport,” Kotak told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. On Saturday, 45-year-old Thomas, a former Wales captain, said in a video posted on Twitter that he had decided to go public in the face of possible blackmail threats.“I’m Gareth Thomas and I want to share my secret with you. Why? Because it’s mine to tell you, not the emails that make my life hell, threatening to tell you before I do, and because I believe in you and I trust you,” he said.