“AIDS is such a devastating disease for so many people around the world and I was honored to get this opportunity to try and do my part to help raise awareness of the disease and ultimately save lives," Harding says.
Last year Harding, who plays with Bedford Blues, was also voted "Britain’s manliest man" after winning a nationwide competition organized by men’s grooming brand the Bluebeards Revenge.
Harding is one of 54 men to appear in the magazine's annual "naked issue." Darren Scott, the editor of Gay Times, says in a statement that he was delighted to feature Harding on the front cover. "How could we not have Britain's manliest man on our cover?" he asks. "Our readers do like their men to be real men! It's an absolute joy to have a straight rugby player be so willing to take part in a shoot for Britain's longest-running gay magazine."
Harding is happy to help a cause he believes in. “I know I’m going to get some stick from the lads at Bedford but it’s all good fun and the whole campaign has a very serious message which needs promoting,” he says.
The Elton John Aids Foundation supports innovative HIV prevention programs, efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS, and direct care and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Watch video of Harding's shoot and interview below.