LONDON, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- A former member of the British cabinet has disclosed he has been HIV positive for 17 years.
Chris Smith, 53, said he did not tell Prime Minister Tony Blair about his illness when he became Britain's first openly gay cabinet minister in 1997, The Sunday Times of London reported.
The former Labor culture secretary said he decided to go public about his condition after former South African president Nelson Mandela announced his son had died of AIDS.
Smith was diagnosed with HIV in 1987 but he said he does not know when he contracted the virus.
"Over recent weeks and months I have thought perhaps this is something that needs to be spoken about," Smith told GMTV's The Sunday Program.
He said he wants to "demystify" the condition in the public's perception and challenge prejudices.