Sunday, October 5, 2014

Evel Dick from "Big Brother": I'm HIV-Positive

Fans of CBS' "Big Brother" reality TV show were confused when Dick Donato suddenly left the game during the 2011 "All-Stars" reunion season. Everyone was very tight-lipped about why he left. It turns out that he learned from the show's medical staff that he is HIV-positive:
Donato was competing on season 13 of Big Brother when producers called him into the house's Diary Room. "They told me that something was wrong with my blood test," he says. "They had done two HIV tests. One had come back positive and the other had come back negative." The show's doctor took more blood. Two hours later, Donato learned the life-changing news. "When they told me, I just went numb," he says. With little explanation, Donato left the show. "They had a car take me from CBS to my mother's house. She was the first person I told..."

Donato doesn't know how he contracted the disease, but he suspects that it happened during unprotected sex with a woman. "People are going to make assumptions about how I got it, and that's okay," he says. "People are afraid to come forward because they're afraid of the stigma of HIV. I'm not gay and I've never stuck a needle in my arm, but at this point, it doesn't matter. We create a stigma around the disease that makes it hard for people to publicly say they have it."
An article with TMZ says that he most likely contracted HIV while having unprotected sex with a stripper. It seems she was having her period while they were having sex.

Apparently, Donato is appearing on a VH1 program called "Couples Therapy" and decided to come out as HIV-postive -- largely to encourage others to get tested for the disease:
And then one day, he had an epiphany. "Look, I get that I'm a reality-show villain," he says. "But for better or for worse, I have a platform. And I decided that it was time to just publicly say what I'm dealing with. On one hand, I'm doing this for myself: I don't want to hide anymore. On the other hand, I hope it will remind viewers to get tested, practice safe sex, all those things we know in the back of our minds but maybe don't do. After I told everyone on Couples Therapy, I had two production people pull me aside and say that they had gotten tested. I feel like I can do some good." 
Later in the linked interview with People, Donato goes on to state that he is responding well to medications. He is generally healthy and his viral load is virtually undetectable.

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