Project Runway Star Reveals He's HIV Positive

Celebrity Body Oct. 1, 2010 AT 5:36PM
Project Runway Star Reveals He's HIV Positive Credit: Mark Von Holden/Getty Images for Piperlime

The secrets came out during Thursday night's episode of Project Runway.

Chief among them: for the first time ever, contestant Mondo Guerra publicly acknowledged that he is HIV positive.

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The shocking announcement came after the aspiring designers were asked to create a textile pattern based on their own personal stories.

Guerra, 32, created a graphic pattern incorporating positive signs to represent his HIV positive status. Shortly after, the contestants' family members -- including Guerra's mother -- made a surprise visit to Parsons School of Design in NYC.

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"I haven't disclosed this information with my mother: I've been HIV positive for 10 years," Guerra, 32, said in the confessional. He then decided not to open up to her until later because "it was her first time in New York and I just didn't want to bring her any pain."

So why did Guerra keep the news of his illness to himself for so long?

"Growing up in a religious, Catholic family, it would be an issue of morals and disrespect," Guerra explained. "This has been so hard to keep a secret from my parents because I love them."

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After the contestants showcased their designs on the runway, Marie Claire's Nina Garcia inquired about the thought process behind Guerra's pattern. Though he initially dodged the question, he came clean before the judges made their final decision.

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"That's very brave of you," said host Heidi Klum, shortly before announcing Guerra as the challenge winner.

Now that his secret is out, Guerra says he can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

"I feel better now. I feel free," he said. "I think it was my opportunity to share something and maybe help others."

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