Last week former Who’s the Boss star Danny Pintauro told Oprah Winfrey that he had a big secret to share with her and her millions of viewers and last night he revealed that he’s been HIV-positive for the past dozen years.
In teaser clips released late last week ahead of his appearance on Oprah: Where Are They Now?, Pintauro spoke briefly about crystal meth use in the gay community, including his own, and how he was forced to come out as gay in 1997 after the National Enquirer threatened him.
However, the 39-year-old’s secret which will likely have the bigger impact was saved for the broadcast when Pintauro shared that he tested positive for HIV 12 years ago.
“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.”
Pintauro told Oprah that he’d just ended a two year relationship and had was eager to experiment sexually.
“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.”
The actor joins other celebrities, such as rapper Mykki Blanco and another former sitcom star Jm. J. Bullock, who’ve revealed they’re living with HIV. Pintauro says that Who’s the Boss? costars Judith Light and Tony Danza have been supportive and he wants to become a positive force within the LGBT communities.
“I feel like in the gay community, we’ve been spending so much energy trying to become socially acceptable and so much energy trying to make marriage happen – which I think are 100 percent important – and, in doing that, we’ve forgotten about taking care of each other a little bit,” he said. “Back when the AIDS crisis was happening … back when we weren’t really socially acceptable, we still took good care of each other because we only had each other. We didn’t have all of our other friends and coworkers or any of that to turn to.”
He adds, “Now that we’ve gotten to the place, we need to look within again. We need to take a step back, and we need to say, ‘OK, here’s where we are, and here’s what we need to do to get our community back to that place of taking care of each other.’ “
Watch a clip of Pintauro open up to Winfrey below.