Fight the stigma

Real World’s Danny Roberts comes out as HIV-positive, says “I spent so long beating myself up”

Danny Roberts first made headlines back in 2000 when he appeared on MTV’s The Real World. At the time, he was dating a male military officer during the height of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, bringing attention to the discriminatory law. Now, 18 years later, he’s making headlines again.

On the eve of World AIDS Day, the retired reality star just revealed that he’s living with HIV in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

“The reason I want to share this story is that I spent so long battling and beating myself up for my own misconceptions and bigotry,” he says.

He adds: “It is difficult to admit the negative feelings you had about a set of people and state of being based on made-up stories.”

Roberts first learned he was positive in 2011 and says it took him a while to accept the diagnosis.

He recalls:

 My first reaction was shock. Then I was angry, then lots of denial. Those early years were very difficult and very lonely. You don’t know whom to turn to have conversation and people don’t know what to say. It’s not something that people have experience with. There’s also the potential likelihood of massive judgments about what behaviors led to this and what kind of people this happens to.

He also described living with HIV as “having a crappy old cell phone with a huge app eating your energy.”

The 41-year-old, who is now undetectable, says he’s in a much better place today.

“I had so many negative feelings I was forced to face,” he says. “I’ve been on such a journey to overcome that. In a way, this has really been like my second coming out.”

He is also hopeful for the future.

“Medicine has come so far,” he says. “It’s incredible where we are and where we could be not far in the future.”

Related: Hunky Broadway star Hernando Umana: “I am a proud gay man living with HIV”