A HIV positive man whose case made headlines when he was initially refused permission to train as a commercial pilot is set to begin flying with a UK airline today.

The Glasgow man - who became known as Anthony, not his real name - said he wanted people to know that the virus should be "no barrier" to people achieving their ambitions.

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It comes days after emotional revelations by former Welsh rugby captain, Gareth Thomas, that he is living with HIV and had been left feeling suicidal following his diagnosis.

Tweeting yesterday, 'Anthony', said: "Two years ago I was told that a HIV+ person could not become a pilot.

"Tomorrow is my first day working for a UK airline. As Gareth Thomas has proven, HIV is no barrier to you being you. In fact it can give you the courage, strength and determination to break real barriers down."

He added: "I'm keen to get the message out as far and wide as possible that there should be literally nothing that anyone should be preventing from doing on the basis of their diagnosis."

Anthony's case first came to light in 2017 when he revealed that he had been offered a place on Easyjet's pilot training programme, but was unable to take it up after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) refused him the medical certificate needed to gain a commercial licence.

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The CAA said it was prevented from doing so due to European aviation guidelines that prevent people with HIV, Type 1 diabetes and organ transplant recipients from flying without a co-pilot.

In January 2018, the CAA confirmed that it has reversed its decision not to grant 'Anthony' a medical certificate for "multi-pilot operations" pending a successful class 1 medical assessment.

At the time, he said he was "overwhelmed, shocked, elated and humbled".

He passed his pilot exams in June this year. 

'Anthony' said becoming a pilot had been a childhood dream and he took up flying lessons aged 15.

He gained his private pilot's licence aged 17, before he had learned to drive, and in 2017 successfully completed the assessments needed to be accepted onto Easyjet's training course.

Will Nathan, spokesman at the CAA, said the agency was continuing to lobby the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to change its rules on pilots with HIV. 

Mr Nathan said: “We are pleased to see this pilot starting his career as a valued flight crew member.

"For a number of years we have promoted permanent changes to the current rules affecting pilots with certain medical conditions, including HIV, and have asked the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the body responsible for medical standards, to undertake the necessary work to allow this change to happen.

“We recognise that this work will take time and we will continue to provide our full support to EASA, and continue to promote routes to certification of pilots with HIV.”

Alan Eagleson, Centre Manager at Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, said: "We stood in solidarity with Anthony in calling for the CAA to overturn the rules which banned him from flying.

"These were out of step with the huge progress we have made in the treatment for HIV that means people living with the virus can live normal and healthy lives.

"There was no reason someone living with HIV should not be able to fly a plane and we welcomed the rule change."

He added that 'Anthony' was a role model "in showing what it means to live with HIV in 2019".

It comes as rugby star, Thomas, revealed that he had been the victim of blackmailers who threatened to reveal his diagnosis against his will.

Speaking on This Morning, the 45-year-old said: "You get pushed into a corner. People have power over you, and you become vulnerable because you have to keep these people happy."

He decided to go public instead, adding that he did not want to involve the police.

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He said he wants to help reduce HIV stigma instead, and highlight how far medical treatment has come since the 1980s.

"Living with HIV is a condition that doesn’t threaten my life or my lifespan in any way or my health at all," he said. "I wanted to put that out there, I wanted people to know, because there would be millions of people living with the fear I was living with.

"To the people who put me in this position, trust me you picked on the wrong person because I’m a fighter."

Life expectancy for people diagnosed with HIV today is now close to the population average due to advances in antiretroviral therapy (ART), which reduces the ability of the virus to attack the body's immune system.