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CBS: “Dick was not forced to leave” Big Brother after HIV diagnosis

Dick Donato’s disclosure that he is HIV positive came with a accusation: that CBS forced him to leave the game. However, while praising “his bravery” for discussing his status on the VH1 reality show Couple’s Therapy, CBS told me he left voluntarily.

Yesterday, Rachel Reilly told TMZ that she wished Dick would have stayed in the game and house, and Dick replied on Twitter:

Separately, responding to someone who suggested “people with HIV are not allowed to even be on the show,” Dick wrote “that’s I was told. I hope this changes things to be honest.”

In a 2011 video, Dick discussed his departure but did not mention the reason; he said, “There was no second thought; I had to leave, and they understood completely. I thank them for their undersanding and their concern; it means a lot to me.”

I asked CBS whether he was forced to leave the show, and whether HIV positive contestants were permitted to compete on the show. CBS responded to the former with this statement:

“The network and the producers have always respected Dick’s privacy with regard to this medical information, as well as his right to disclose it on his terms, if at all. We applaud his bravery in stepping forward with this disclosure, and his desire to use his personal situation to inform and help others regarding HIV.

Contrary to some reports, Dick was not forced to leave the show once he was informed of the positive test. There was no discussion about his future role on the show. Dick made the decision to leave immediately. It was obvious to everyone that there were medical and personal priorities that were far more important than a television show.”

Update, 9 p.m. ET: Earlier today, Dick replied on Twitter to this story and to a follow-up question I asked. The following are his responses:

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