On tonight’s episode of VH1’s Couples Therapy, the housemates will learn that cast member and former Big Brother champion Dick Donato is HIV positive.
Donato says that after keeping his diagnosis a secret for three years, he’s decided to go public so that he might use his fame to bring attention to the crippling illness and the difficulty that many patients have with affording treatment.
Donato appeared on TMZ Live today, where he opened up to the site about the hardship of paying for medication that keeps him alive:
"The drugs are extremely expensive," Donato tells Harvey Levin.
"This puts a heroin or cocaine addict to shame. It’s like a 110, or 130 dollars a pill. And you cannot miss one dose … that’s when you develop full-blown AIDS, and there is no cure for that."
Donato goes on to say that he was "wiped out" by the cost of treatment and only once he was completely broke was he able to qualify for Medicaid.
(The red-haired reality star specifies that he was diagnosed before the availability of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.)
In response to news that one of his former cast members, Rachel Reilly, stated that she wished he had stayed on Big Brother in light of his diagnosis?
Donato responded that he had no choice but to leave.
He was not given a choice by producers, he says, though he also wasn’t bitter about it, since the situation rocked him to his core and he had to leave.
Dick says he needed time to "digest" the news of his illness, not to mention plan a course of action regarding treatment, so he harbors no ill will.
You can watch Couples Therapy online at TV Fanatic to see Dick break the news to his castmates tonight and cope with his illness in the public eye.