Danny Pintauro appeared on Oprah: Where Are They Now? yesterday to discuss his journey after starring on ABC’s Who’s The Boss in the 1980s.
In the episode, the former child star revealed something he’s kept private for more than a decade: that he is HIV-positive.
“I wanted to tell you this a long time ago, but I wasn’t ready. I’m ready now,” Pintauro says. “I’m HIV-positive, and I have been for 12 years.”
Pintauro came out as gay publicly in 1997, when a tabloid threatened to out him. After talking with his on-screen mom, Judith Light, Pintauro decided to cooperate with the paper in order to control the narrative.
“Believe it or not, the National Enquirer actually did a really fantastic, heartwarming article about it,” he says. “I was shocked.”
Pintauro waited to disclose his HIV status, though, because it was “a big deal” for him. “It’s not something that people are really talking about right now.”
He tells Oprah he learned he was positive in 2003.
“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,” Pintauro explains. “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.”
After two-year relationship, Pintauro says he became more sexually adventurous and began using meth.
“Crystal meth takes away your inhibitions… And if you want to explore that adventurous side, taking the drug is going to put you there.”
He used the drug, off and on, for several weeks. “And believe it or not, I thought that I was being safe in that encounter.”
Pintauro says he knows when he contracted the virus, but doesn’t remember the name of the man who gave it who him.
“I regret not knowing that, because that person has completely changed my life,” he says.
Even though antiretroviral drugs were available by then, he was still devastated.
“It was terrifying, and there was a sense of relief,” he says. “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 and his husband Wil Tabares live in Las Vegas, where Pintauro works as a restaurant manager.
He says his goal is to live a long life and help other gay men avoids some of the choices he made.
“What I want my community to realize is we need to take better care of ourselves.”