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Big Brother Winner Dick Donato: ‘I Am HIV Positive’

When Big Brother 8 winner Dick Donato signed up to appear on VH1’s Couples Therapy, he decided to use the show go public with a very personal struggle: He has been living with HIV since 2011.

The reality-TV villain, who often goes by the nickname “Evel Dick,” is appearing on the VH1 show with his on-again, off-again girlfriend Stephanie Rogness-Fischer. On Wednesday’s episode of Couples Therapy, he’ll reveal his struggle with the show’s therapist, Dr. Jenn Berman. In an upcoming episode, he will share the news with the rest of the show’s cast, including The Bachelor‘s Juan Pablo Galavis and Nikki Ferrell.

In a candid interview, Donato, 51, tells PEOPLE about his journey – and how living with HIV has changed him.

His Diagnosis

Donato was competing on season 13 of Big Brother when producers called him into the house’s Diary Room. “They told me that something was wrong with my blood test,” he says. “They had done two HIV tests. One had come back positive and the other had come back negative.” The show’s doctor took more blood. Two hours later, Donato learned the life-changing news. “When they told me, I just went numb,” he says. With little explanation, Donato 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 continues. “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.”

Donato doesn’t know how he contracted the disease, but he suspects that it happened during unprotected sex with a woman. “People are going to make assumptions about how I got it, and that’s okay,” he says. “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.”

Donato began researching treatment for HIV. “Being diagnosed is like being blindfolded and spun around 100 times, then being left in a dark room,” he says. “I spent a lot of time trying to figure out my next steps – the right doctors and medications. I really began to understand how frustrating it could be.

Going Public

For three years, Donato was afraid of being found out. “I went to a clinic that had a big sign that said ‘HIV’ and I thought, ‘What if someone sees me?’ My computer and router were hacked and I was afraid that someone would leak the information. I came up with excuses – people wondered why I was taking medicine regularly. When people asked why I left Big Brother, I would give quippy, smart-ass answers.”

And then one day, he had an epiphany. “Look, I get that I’m a reality-show villain,” he says. “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.

His Prognosis

Donato is on medication, and will be for the rest of his life. “I take one pill a day,” he says. “The only side effect I’ve noticed is that I have a lot of vivid dreams that wake me up during the night. But it’s a small price to pay: My viral load is virtually undetectable, I’m happy to say. I live a very normal life and don’t have a lot of health issues. It also means that it’s highly unlikely I could pass the disease along, although I don’t have unsafe sex anymore. I fully expect to die of something else when I get old, not HIV or AIDS”

“I knew it wasn’t a death sentence like it used to be,” says Donato, “But it has still changed me. I do think about others a lot more now. 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.”

Couples Therapy airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. EST on VH1.

Big Brother Winner Dick Donato: I Am HIV Positive
Source: Big Brother Winner Dick Donato: ‘I Am HIV Positive’

Jason Kennedy and Lauren Scruggs: Countdown to Wedding!

Jason Kennedy and Lauren Scruggs: Countdown to Wedding!

Jason Kennedy and Lauren Scruggs

Victor Hugo Garcia Moreno

10/01/2014 AT 08:50 AM EDT

Since becoming engaged in May, Jason Kennedy and Lauren Scruggs admit it’s been quite the whirlwind.

“It’s a busy time,” says Kennedy, who’s a correspondent for both E! and the Today show. “Things have been pretty stressful.”

Between wedding planning and a recent move, the couple welcomed a much-needed breather.

“I just moved into a house that Lauren and I bought together,” Kennedy, 32, tells PEOPLE. “But she’s not moving in until after we get married. It’s a big deal – it’s our first house that we’re buying together, and that’s really exciting.”

“We’re putting furniture in there and juggling deciding on wedding songs and all that, so we decided to do a little intimate getaway, a pre-honeymoon, if you will,” he says of the five-day vacation at Riviera Maya’s Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita, where the couple were joined by Lauren’s twin sister and her husband.

“It was super quiet there and we layed out, did a lot of spa treatments, got some exercise and ate way too much food!” says Kennedy with a laugh. “It was a perfect decompression before things get really crazy for us.”

Crazy in a good way, that is.

Jason Kennedy and Lauren Scruggs: Countdown to Wedding!

Lauren Scruggs and Jason Kennedy

Victor Hugo Garcia Moreno

“We’re just excited and ready for it to be here,” Scruggs, 26, says about the wedding. “But I’m most excited about actually living in one place, because the transition has been kind of frustrating. I’m just looking forward to being settled together.”

With the planning well underway, it’s the special night surrounded by his close friends (11 groomsmen in total!) and family that can’t come soon enough for Kennedy. “To have them all there with me, some of my mentors, best friends – to celebrate the biggest moment of my life – will be incredible.”

“I’m ready to enjoy our night and celebrate and then make sure Lauren knows I love her!”

Jason Kennedy and Lauren Scruggs: Countdown to Wedding!
Source: Jason Kennedy and Lauren Scruggs: Countdown to Wedding!

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Launches Exhibition of Favorite Film Costumes

10/01/2014 AT 08:15 AM EDT

If you’ve ever wondered what happened to Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones hat from The Raiders of the Lost Ark, Henry Cavill’s Superman cape from Man of Steel or Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, the answer is that they’re all actually in the same place.

These iconic pieces – along with 150 other costumes – will be on display at the Hollywood Costume exhibition presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the historic Wilshire May Company building, beginning Oct. 2.

“This really reflects 100 years of the costume designers’ contribution to the movies,” legendary costumer Deborah Landis, who curated the exhibit, told PEOPLE. “It starts with Charlie Chaplin and The Tramp, in 1914, and ends with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in 2014.”

The exhibition also includes memorable costumes from Dallas Buyers Club, The Hunger Games, Mary Poppins and Titanic, among many others.

“You enter the room and you just see a million stars in roles that you remember,” said Landis. “It’s like a cocktail party that you always wanted to go to.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Launches Exhibition of Favorite Film Costumes
Source: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Launches Exhibition of Favorite Film Costumes

Amal Alamuddin ‘Was Looking for Mr. Perfect’ When She Met George Clooney, Bride’s Friend Shares at…

Amal Alamuddin Was Looking for Mr. Perfect When She Met George Clooney, Brides Friend Shares at...

Amal Alamuddin and George Clooney

Splash News Online

10/01/2014 AT 08:00 AM EDT

Subscribe now to access PEOPLE’s EXCLUSIVE George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin Wedding Album plus 26 intimate bonus photos from inside the ceremony, reception and more at people.com/magazine, starting Wednesday, the same day the issue hits newsstands.

One night last summer, Amal Alamuddin and Jae Kim, her dear friend since law school, had a heart-to-heart about love.

“[We] stayed up talking late into the night about relationships and whether she would ever meet her partner in life,” recalled Kim during a touching speech at Alamuddin and George Clooney‘s Sept. 27 wedding ceremony. “She had just been picked the ‘Hottest Barrister in London,’ and I was concerned that this would not work in her favor, as most men found her intimidating already.”

What’s more, Alamuddin’s bar was almost impossibly high. “The list of things she was looking for in this man, she readily admitted, could not realistically be found in one person,” shared Kim. “She was looking for Mr. Perfect, and he was nowhere to be found.”

Until she met George.

While Alamuddin, 36, was clearly smitten, the actor’s reputation as one of Hollywood’s most long-standing bachelors was not lost on her friend. “I have to admit, that caused some motherly panic,” Kim said in her speech. “Is she going to get hurt? He isn’t exactly Mr. Commitment, I thought.”

Those fears were quickly dispelled. “You could see in the way he held himself, treated her and others, and enjoyed life that his heart was big and he loved her with all of it,” she said.

The effect Clooney, 53, had on Alamuddin was evident: She quit smoking (“cold turkey!”), and uncharacteristically, Kim joked, “ever since she met George, she has been on time.”

But most of all, she said, “I had never seen her smile like that. She has had that smile now for almost a year straight.”

The couple’s love story, said Kim, “is nothing short of a fairytale.”

Subscribe now to access PEOPLE’s EXCLUSIVE George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin Wedding Album plus 26 intimate bonus photos from inside the ceremony, reception and more at people.com/magazine. And pick up your issue on newsstands now!

Amal Alamuddin Was Looking for Mr. Perfect When She Met George Clooney, Brides Friend Shares at...

PEOPLE.com Illustration By Debra Cartwright

5 Reasons Amal Is Perfect For George

Amal Alamuddin Was Looking for Mr. Perfect When She Met George Clooney, Brides Friend Shares at...
Source: Amal Alamuddin ‘Was Looking for Mr. Perfect’ When She Met George Clooney, Bride’s Friend Shares at…


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