Former rugby player Gareth Thomas has said that he was “told to die” after allegations surfaced that he transmitted HIV to his ex-partner.

Thomas' former partner, Ian Baum, 59, has filed a lawsuit claiming that Thomas “deceptively” transmitted HIV to him during their relationship, which began in 2013. Baum's lawsuit calls for £150,000 ($175,380) in damages. Thomas has denied the allegations.

In a statement given to UK glossy Attitude, Thomas, one of the first professional athletes in the UK to publicly come out as gay, said that he has endured a “torrent of abuse” since the allegations surfaced in August.

“Since the meritless allegations surfaced, I have endured a challenging torrent of abuse both online and in person,” he said. “I've been spat at in the street, called a f*king AIDS spreader, told I should be locked up, that I should die, and much worse.”

Thomas also called the “wave of support” he's received “empowering.”

"I am proud of who I am. I am far from perfect, but I am also far from the person I’m accused of being,” he said.

"I am comfortable in my position and my defense speaks for itself. I will continue to fight these allegations and proudly continue my advocacy work undeterred with the same passion as always," he added.

Thomas, who came out publicly as gay in 2009 and retired from the sport in 2011, revealed he's HIV-positive in 2019, saying that he came forward after being put “through hell” by blackmailers who threatened to expose his HIV status. Since then, the 48-year-old has spoken out against HIV stigma.

In filings before the court, Thomas admitted that he did not tell Baum his HIV status, but added that he was never asked.