Dick Donato shared news this week that he is HIV positive, leaving fans of the Big Brother winner shocked at the revelation.
Donato, who had signed up to appear on VH1’s Couple Therapy, said he decided to use the show to share his struggle with HIV. Donato was diagnosed in 2011, learning of it during his second stint in the Big Brother house.
“They told me that something was wrong with my blood test,” Dick Donato told People magazine. “They had done two HIV tests. One had come back positive and the other had come back negative.”
The show’s doctor took another test, and within two hours “Evel” Dick learned that he indeed had HIV.
“When they told me, I just went numb,” he says. Donato then left the show. “They had a car take me from CBS to my mother’s house. She was the first person I told.”
“My biggest fear was telling my girlfriend,” Donato added. “We had this long discussion, and I figured she would freak out. But she was really understanding about the whole thing. She said, ‘Whatever happens, we’ll face it together.’ She was tested and it came back negative. It was an incredible relief.”
Back in 2011, Dick addressed his leaving the show in a YouTube video, rejecting speculation that he left in order to further his daughter, Danielle.
“All these rumors are getting out of hand,” he said, attacking those who led speculation that he was arrested or that a family member had been hurt or killed.
He went on to explain that it was “bad news about someone I was very close with,” but did not give more details.
Here is the full video (with NSFW language).
Many fans have been reacting to the news that Dick Donato has HIV, expressing shock and leaving messages of support.
— Heather Bonner (@LoverOfLacquer) October 1, 2014
I’ve been an on again/off again fan of Dick Donato, can’t say he’s one of my favourite people but him living with HIV sucks! Sorry to hear.
— Terri (@onterrioh) October 1, 2014
Dick Donato added that he does not know how he contracted HIV, but said he is now living a normal life with few traces of the disease.