Former child star Danny Pintauro went public over the weekend with the news that he is HIV-positive.
From 1984-92, he played Judith Light’s son and Alyssa Milano’s brother on the ABC sitcom Who’s the Boss which also starred Tony Danza.
Now 39, Pintauro is using his childhood fame to warn other gay men about the dangers of mixing sex and crystal meth.
In interviews with Oprah Winfrey and People.com, Pintauro says this is what he did when he became infected in 2003. He believes too many in the gay community are still engaging in this risky combination.
‘I am speaking out because I want everyone who continues to ‘tweak’ and party to know that it is not worth the price,’ he says. ‘I want my community to wake up, stop being complacent and start taking care of each other. We need to be the best we can – safe and healthy.’
Growing up when AIDS was a death sentence, Pintauro says he practiced safe sex and always did condom checks. But when he began using crystal meth, he says his immune system was quickly shot.
‘Having done it for multiple hours, or perhaps I had been doing it for a day or two or maybe over the last couple of weeks off and on, my immune system wasn’t recovering, and I was so much more susceptible to anything that came my way,’ he says. ‘This guy was not on HIV medications, so his viral load was through the roof, I’m sure – especially because he’s doing a lot of drugs and not taking care of himself – so those factors combined to still find a way to have me contract HIV.’
He warns that the risk is even greater for people who are less vigilant about protection.
‘The meth forces you to lose your inhibitions, so of course you’re going to say, “Oh, I don’t need to use a condom,” or, “I’ll be fine this time” because you’re lost in it. It’s no good, no good.’
Pintauro came out publicly as a gay man in 1997 when a tabloid threatened to do it anyway, graduated from Stanford University, and last year he got married to Wil Tabares.