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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’

Maksim Chmerkovskiy: ‘I Am an Incurable Romantic’

09/30/2014 AT 10:25 AM EDT

This hoofer is kicking up his heels.

After winning the coveted mirror-ball trophy on Dancing with the Stars with Olympic gold medalist Meryl Davis earlier this year, Maksim Chmerkovskiy knew it was time to move on professionally, if not personally.

“I am more than dancing,” Chmerkovskiy, 34, told PEOPLE on Saturday at the Alfalit International Global Literacy Dinner in Miami, where he donated a private dance lesson for four.

“I was a dancing pro on the show for about a decade, and I needed the trophy to show for it. But Meryl was part of that,” he said. “And while I am doing other things, Meryl is a close friend and has become very important in my life. We have new projects together.”

Now studying to become an actor, expanding his Dance With Me Dance Studios – he recently opened his sixth location in Los Angeles and has 25 more on the drawing board – and designing his bold and masculine MAKSIM line of jewelry, the dancer and choreographer still finds time for sexy, sporty women.

“I am a hopeless romantic who falls in lust and gets in trouble,” he said. “I love my work and am very productive, yet I always find time to play.”

Talk of his rumored relationship with superstar performer Jennifer Lopez makes him smile.

“Yes, she’s great, I have fun,” he said without elaborating. “And while other names are out there … I am not a scumbag.”

And though Chmerkovskiy is missed by female fans of DWTS, he says he’s been too busy to decide if he will hang up his Dancing shoes forever.

“I still watch the show, because it is part of me and will be 50 years from now,” he said. “Winning was a huge portion of a big chunk of my life. I am not sure if I will return or in what capacity. Time will tell.”

Maksim Chmerkovskiy: I Am an Incurable Romantic
Source: Maksim Chmerkovskiy: ‘I Am an Incurable Romantic’

Neil Patrick Harris Talks About His Wedding, Stripping Down for Hedwig and Gone Girl (VIDEO)

09/30/2014 AT 09:20 AM EDT

Neil Patrick Harris achieved a rare Late Show hat trick Monday night.

The actor was on hand to talk about his own Italian wedding, which took place earlier this month at a castle near Perugia. (“Take that, George Clooney!” Harris said kiddingly.)

The ceremony featured a performance by Elton John, who also introduced Harris and David Burtka’s first dance – soundtracked to Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This,” it featured an expertly timed fireworks display.

Harris’s interview got a little more risqué when he started discussing his Tony-winning run in Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

When Letterman noted that Harris’s performance including spitting water on an audience member, Harris added that there was a fair amount of “dry-humping,” as well. Letterman asked if “the Tony people” knew about that, causing Harris to quip, “That’s how I won the award, Dave.”

Conversation also touched upon a sex scene in one of Harris’s films, at which point Letterman jotted down a note: “Shagging, dry-humping, bare a–: It’s the hat trick. You got ‘em all in. Never happened before.”

Harris next appears in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, which also stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. The film opens Oct. 3.

Neil Patrick Harris Talks About His Wedding, Stripping Down for Hedwig and Gone Girl (VIDEO)
Source: Neil Patrick Harris Talks About His Wedding, Stripping Down for Hedwig and Gone Girl (VIDEO)

The 25 Hottest Twitpics and Instagrams of September 2014


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Summer may be over but these celebs are just heating things up. Of course, the usual suspects like Nicki Minaj, Kim Kardashian, and Miley Cyrus proudly showed their lady lumps on social media this month, but don’t underestimate others like cast members from Orange Is the New Black, Lea Michele, and Serena Williams, who gave them a run for their money.

This month also proved that sexy selfies aren’t just for the ladies. Nick Jonas, Joe Manganiello, and Trey Songz gave us a good, long look at their… arms and abs. Not that we’re complaining. Hop into the gallery above for the hottest of the hot in Twitpics and Instagrams this month and prepare to be just a little hot and bothered. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

[Photo Credit: @iamerica_mena,@kimkardashian, @lilyaldridge]

Source: The 25 Hottest Twitpics and Instagrams of September 2014


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