Infamous Big Brother winner Evel Dick Donato is HIV positive — and now hopes to inspire others with a positive message.
“Look, I get that I’m a reality-show villain,” he told People. “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.”
Evel explained he only learned of his diagnosis when he was competing on his second season of Big Brother in 2011.
“They told me that something was wrong with my blood test,” Evel said. “They had done two HIV tests. One had come back positive and the other had come back negative.”
He did one more blood test, which confirmed his HIV-positive status. He immediately left the Big Brother house — to the confusion of many viewers.
He said he was most afraid of telling his girlfriend, but knew he had to overcome that fear quickly so that she could also get tested.
“We had this long discussion, and I figured she would freak out. But she was really understanding about the whole thing,” he recalled. “She said, ‘Whatever happens, we’ll face it together.’ She was tested and it came back negative. It was an incredible relief.”
Evel, who believes he contracted the virus by having unprotected sex, said the next step was finding the right doctors and medications: “Being diagnosed is like being blindfolded and spun around 100 times, then being left in a dark room… I really began to understand how frustrating it could be.”
Three years later, he takes one pill a day to manage his HIV and is optimistic about his future.
“I fully expect to die of something else when I get old, not HIV or AIDS,” he said. “But it has still changed me. I do think about others a lot more now.”
On tonight’s episode of Couples Therapy, which Evel is featured on along with on-again, off-again girlfriend Stephanie Rogness-Fischer, he will reveal his diagnosis to Dr. Jenn Berman. He will share the news with the rest of the cast in an upcoming episode.
“I’m looking forward to going public with this, because maybe, just maybe, this can be the moment where I do something that really helps other people.”