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NCIS star Pauley Perrette on how she became so dedicated to HIV and AIDS awareness

NCIS star Pauley Perrette on how she became so dedicated to HIV and AIDS awareness

At AIDS Walk Los Angeles earlier this month, one of the most prominent celebrities was actress Pauley Perrette who, for the second year running, raised more than $10,000 for the cause.

As one of the stars of NCIS, the most popular show on broadcast television in the US, Perrette has used her celebrity to bring awareness to the ongoing battle against HIV and AIDS for which there remains no cure.

The 43-year-old actress says her commitment to battling the disease began more than two decades ago when she was an unknown actress living in New York City.

‘This was before the drug cocktail, and the environment around HIV had not even evolved to where it is now,’ she tells HIV-Plus Magazine in an interview posted Tuesday (23 October). ‘It was Christmas Eve and I was alone in New York, and I didn’t have any money at all, I was always broke and alone. So I went down to 14th Street and bought a little bag of Christmas tree balls and took them over to St. Vincent’s Hospital and went up to the HIV ward. I just went in and gave them each a little Christmas ball. What struck me the most was that everyone in there was alone, and that really broke my heart.’

Perrette has gained scores of fans over the past nine years for her portrayal of Abby Sciuto, the forensic wunderkind with a heart of gold, on NCIS. She has become the most popular actress on US television, according to her Q rating which is a ratio of a performer’s recognizability to their likeability.

But somehow, she still doesn’t feel as if she’s really made it.

‘I’m extremely frugal,’ she confesses. ‘I don’t wear any jewelry. All of my clothes come from Out of the Closet thrift stores. And I always say that on the red carpet, because all the money I spend on my dresses goes toward AIDS research. [Reporters] will always say, ‘Who are you wearing?’ And I always say, ‘I’m wearing AIDS research!’