Danny Pintauro Partners with HIV Equal Social Media Campaign in Hopes of 'Breaking Down Barriers' for the Gay Community
"Danny is setting a real-life example for real people," says HIV Equal co-founder and U.S. HIV/AIDS Specialist Dr. Gary Blick
Danny Pintauro‘s Beacon of Light Tour has begun. First stop? Social media.
PEOPLE can exclusively reveal that Pintauro – whom fellow former child star Candace Cameron Bure called the “Face of HIV” on The View – is joining forces with HIV Equal, a social media campaign launched in 2013 to remove the stigma of the virus.
On Friday, Pintauro told Bure and co-host Raven-Symoné that he was launching his Beacon of Light Tour – a campaign of awareness the former Who’s the Boss star, 39, exclusively first discussed with PEOPLE – after revealing to Oprah Winfrey on the Sept. 26 episode of Oprah: Where Are They Now? that he has been HIV-positive for 12 years since contracting the disease while abusing crystal meth to heighten sexual experiences.
In his first work for HIV Equal on Friday, the actor participated in a “terrific conversation, terrific brainstorming” with key members of the U.S.-based non-profit World Health Clinicians, including HIV/AIDS Specialist Dr. Gary Blick and Executive Director Scott Gretz.
“Thanks to Danny Pintauro’s bravery, and to Oprah’s interest in bringing light to something so important, HIV is back in the headlines!” says Blick in an exclusive statement. “Danny is now a role model for the young gay and MSM populations here in the U.S. He is destigmatizing people living with HIV and breaking down barriers to getting tested.”
Blick credits the actor with “setting a real-life example for real people” thanks to his vigilance in testing and treatment, resulting in a presently undetectable viral load, and thanks to the safe-sex practices he and Wil Tabares, his husband of 18 months, are promoting publicly.
Blick adds that Pintauro “sat with us in a candid, on-camera interview to discuss some very personal details that could, very well, end up helping someone who may be struggling in a similar way.”
Pintauro previously told PEOPLE he’s aware of the anxiety around HIV/AIDS that still pervades society: “A lot of people just aren’t comfortable with it. They might say they are, but in the back of their mind, they’re terrified of it. … And that’s okay. I can’t force them to not be terrified of something. I was terrified of it for the longest time. I understand that terror.”
Now, he said he’s hoping to open up a dialogue that will both continue to destigmatize HIV and also reduce the common abuse of crystal meth for sexual purposes.
“I am speaking out because I want everyone who continues to ‘tweak’ and party to know that it is not worth the price,” Pintauro told PEOPLE. “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.”