Finding out he was HIV positive was like 'a bomb going off' in his head, says former Australian Olympian Ji Wallace.
Wallace, the only Australian to have won a silver medal in gymnastics in Sydney, said he walked around for weeks in a haze of shock and disbelief after knowing a year ago he had contracted the virus from his partner.
AdvertisementHowever, Wallace said he has never looked back since that difficult couple of months he spent alone in Canada, The Age reports.
This is why he went public to reveal his truth this week after being inspired by an interview with Greg Louganis, the four-time Olympic diving gold medalist, who revealed he was gay and HIV positive in an autobiography in 1995.
"It's not a big deal to me. Everybody I needed to tell was very supportive of me, but it is a big deal to those people who find themselves discriminated against or bullied because of it," he said.
"If one or two people or thousands of people get encouragement and courage to chase their dreams or live their lives honestly, if what I wrote makes a difference, then I have done the right thing," he added.
Wallace was openly, but not publicly gay in Sydney.
He made his sexuality known publicly four years later when a friend convinced him gay athletes should talk more about their sexuality.
Wallace moved back to Australia and began a program of antiretroviral drugs after being told he was 'too healthy' to take part in trials for new drugs.