Dick Donato is best known for winning "Big Brother 8" back in 2007, with his attitude and gameplay earning him the nickname Evel Dick. Today, Donato has returned to reality TV, appearing on "Couple's Therapy," and he's using the spotlight to open up about his personal struggle: living with HIV.
The 51-year-old appears on the show with his girlfriend Stephanie Rogness-Fischer, and on Wednesday's episode of the VH1 show, Donato reveals to the rest of the cast the diagnosis he received in 2011 that changed his life.
In an interview with People magazine, Donato explained that he first learned he was HIV positive while he was competing on Season 13 of "Big Brother."
"[The producers] told me that something was wrong with my blood test. They had done two HIV tests. One had come back positive and the other had come back negative," he told the magazine.
Doctors tested him again, and when test came back positive, and Donato quickly left the show.
The reality star says he's unsure how he contracted HIV, but he thinks it happened after he had unprotected sex with a woman. "People are going to make assumptions about how I got it, and that's okay," he told People. "We create a stigma around the disease that makes it hard for people to publicly say they have it."
And for years, he says, he was terrified of anyone knowing his status -- until one day he had a change of heart.
"Look, I get that I'm a reality-show villain. 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," he told People. "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."