On Saturday night’s episode of Oprah: Where Are They Now?, former child star Danny Pintauro told Oprah that he has been living with a secret for more than a decade. For eight years, Pintauro played the son of a driven single mother on “Who’s the Boss?”. In his sit-down, Pintauro –who goes by “Daniel” now– begins the interview…
“I wanted to tell you this a long time ago, but I wasn’t ready. I’m ready now. I’m HIV-positive, and I have been for 12 years.”
In 1997, when he was a college student, Pintauro came out as gay..
“I was outed. It wasn’t by choice.”
He says that a tabloid reporter called him back then saying he was going to out him whether he cooperated or not. His former co-star, Judith Light, encouraged Pintauro to participate as a way of controlling the conversation.
“It was the best thing. ‘They can’t misquote you,’ she said. ‘And as long as you give really responsible and mature answers, it can’t be a bad article.'”
Believe it or not, the ‘National Enquirer’ actually did a really fantastic, heartwarming article about it. I was shocked.”
Pintauro says he regularly underwent routine HIV testing every six months. In March of 2003, his whole world changed. Having come out of a two-year relationship, Pintauro admits that he had been looking to explore more sexually and began using crystal meth as a means to that end…
“I was living in New York at the time and completely clueless to the idea that I was positive. I went in for a regular checkup. It was just regular blood work. You go in, and you sort of waited two weeks on pins and needles — or at least I did, because I was just terrified of the idea of getting HIV.
I was doing crystal meth, which completely ruins your immune system. I’d been doing it at that point very briefly, but it was three weeks or so, off and on. I had just come out of a two-year relationship, and I discovered in that relationship that there was more I wanted to explore sexually. Crystal meth takes away your inhibitions… And if you want to explore that adventurous side, taking the drug is going to put you there.
I was experimenting… And believe it or not, I thought that I was being safe in that encounter. I know exactly when it happened.”
Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) had been introduced by the time Pintatuo was diagnosed, dramatically increasing the lifespan of those with HIV and reducing their risk of transmitting the infection to others, but Pintauro was still devastated. He struggled to make sense of his feelings.
“It was terrifying, and there was a sense of relief. It’s backwards. You’ve spent so much time terrified that you’re going to get it, and then you have it. You don’t have to be terrified anymore.”
Today, Pintauro lives with his husband in Las Vegas, and works as a restaurant manager. He said that his dreams in life are to open a bed and breakfast, live a long life and be a beacon of light that can help make a difference to others along the journey. Pintauro also shared an important message for other men in the gay community.
“What I want my community to realize is we need to take better care of ourselves.”
Oprah: Where Are They Now? airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.
(via Huffington Post)