While attending the controversial Provo Canyon School in Utah as a teenager, Kat Von D was falsely told that she contracted HIV via a tattoo, she claims.
It took several years before finding out she was actually disease-free.
The former "L.A. Ink" star shared her experience with Paris Hilton on the heiress's "Trapped in Treatment" podcast. Paris also famously attended the Utah school, where she alleged that she was physically, mentally and emotionally abused.
"My experience was probably a little different than yours because my parents put me in there because they were terrified of the tattoo world, you know," Kat told Paris. "And I don't blame them at the time. There was no TV shows. There was, you know, … the perspective on tattooing was really just about, like, hoodlums and, you know, you're either a hooker or in a gang or something terrible. And so they were terrified and they didn't realize it was just a form of self-expression. So when I got admitted that was one of the things that they wanted to cure me from."
While there as a 15-year-old, a school counselor told Kat she was HIV-positive.
"I don't know whose idea it was, but at one point the counselor set me aside and basically told me that I had contracted HIV from a tattoo," Kat recalled. "And this was after they take your blood and a stool test and a urine test and all that. And so you're sitting there with somebody who you think is qualified, who absolutely has zero credentials. And they're telling you news like this. As a 15-year-old, I mean, I was, you know, I can't even believe that that happened."
When Kat, now 40, left the school following a six-month stint, no one ever told her the truth, so she went through the next several years of her life believing she was living with HIV.
"When I did get admitted out, I was never told that that was just a joke that that was false," Kat said, "I went through my entire life up until I got tested again, you know, at the age of 17 or 18. And then realized that, 'Okay, cool. I'm gonna be okay.'"
The mother-of-one went on to bash the institution, saying it was a "lockdown facility," something she's spoken about before on social media.
Not only did the six-month stint at Provo affect her mental state, it also had an effect on her parent's finances, saying they were the "first victims." Her parents, she insists, were "completely conned" by the institution and are "just as manipulated as the children." The former reality star even revealed that her mom and dad put their house on loan to pay for the school as "they believed this place was going to help me in some way because that's what they were sold on."
Toward the end of the lengthy discussion, Kat called for a systemic change with these behavioral facilities.
"[There are] so many kids that aren't able to cope as I guess, as well as we did," she said. "I mean, I didn't cope very well through, you know, the first few years I drank until I was blind. You know, that's no way to live."
"We can grow from this and become stronger, but there's some scarring and that's the hand that we're dealt, you know, and now it's just our job to try our best to fix all that as best as we can," she told Paris. "You know, I don't want to be a victim. I don't wanna live traumatized life and I don't want you to have insomnia, you know, like you do. And you don't deserve that. Nobody does."