You may remember Dick Donato as the Season 8 winner of CBS reality show “Big Brother.” Donato became infamous for relentlessly terrorizing his competitors in the house. But now the reality show villain, who goes by the nickname of “Evel Dick,” is making headlines for a very different reason. Recently Dick, 51, shared with the world that he’s HIV positive.
The reality show star decided to reveal his struggle on the Wednesday, Oct. 1, episode of “Couples Therapy,” where he shared his story with the show’s therapist, Dr. Jenn Berman. In an upcoming episode of the VH1 drama, Dick will divulge his current situation with the rest of the show’s cast, including Juan Pablo Galavis from “The Bachelor” and “Jersey Shore” star Deena Cortese.
— EvelDick (@EvelDick) October 1, 2014
Dick divulged to People magazine that he discovered his diagnosis while competing on Season 13 of “Big Brother" in 2011. According to Dick, the producers called him into the house’s Diary Room where they informed him something had gone awry with his blood test.
"They had done two HIV tests," Dick explained. "One had come back positive and the other had come back negative." After two more tests, Dick learned that he was HIV positive. “When they told me, I just went numb," he said.
Dick left the “Big Brother” house on day 6 of the show’s thirteenth season with little explanation. "They had a car take me from CBS to my mother's house. She was the first person I told," Dick revealed.
"My biggest fear was telling my girlfriend," Dick Donato explained of sharing the information with Stephanie Fisher, his significant other who he is receiving counseling with on “Couples Therapy.” "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."
Dick explained that although he doesn’t know who he contracted the disease from, he has an idea that it occurred while having unprotected sex with a woman. "People are going to make assumptions about how I got it, and that's okay," he told People magazine. "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."
"I knew I was not alone having HIV, yet nobody talks about it. I hope what I am doing gives more people the confidence to say F---the stigma," he wrote on Twitter.
At first the actor, who worked as a stand-in for Keith Richards in the motion picture “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” revealed he was fearful word might get out regarding his disease.
I went public because I was sick of being worried someone would find out and "out" me. I wanted to do it on my own terms TV reaches most ppl
— EvelDick (@EvelDick) October 1, 2014
But one day Evel Dick had an epiphany. "Look, I get that I'm a reality-show villain," he began. "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."
40% of people with HIV have no clue they have it. Get tested, get treatment
— EvelDick (@EvelDick) October 2, 2014
Thus far Dick has received an overwhelming amount of support from family and friends. “It means so much to me, I am truly touched. This has been a long day and I need sleep,” the reality show star wrote on Twitter after addressing as many tweets he could possibly manage.
You can watch Dick and the rest of the celebrity couples on "Couples Therapy" Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. EDT on VH1.