NEWSZENTS: That took some guts. On Tuesday morning, Charlie Sheen sat down with Matt Lauer on the Today show to open up about a shocking secret. “I am, in fact, HIV positive,” he confessed right out the gate.
The resident Hollywood bad boy looked healthy and relieved as he spoke about his diagnosis four years ago and what led him to make this announcement now.
“I have to put a stop to this barrage of attacks and sub-truths and very harmful and mercurial stories that are about me that threaten the health of so many others,“ he said. ”[It] couldn’t be farther from the truth.“
Sheen, now 50, described a horrible series of headaches which led him to a series of tests and, ultimately, his diagnosis. “I thought I had a brain tumor. I thought it was over,” he said. “It’s a hard three letters to absorb. It’s a turning point in one’s life.”
That diagnosis came right around the time that his public meltdown led to him being kicked off Two and a Half Men, though Sheen insisted that whole mess was due to a “‘roid rage” more than anything else. It was also shortly after his marriage to Brooke Mueller ended, and Sheen said he immediately reached out to her to be tested. The star later noted that, as of this moment, he doesn’t entirely know how he contracted the virus, but he’s currently taking a so-called “triple-cocktail” of pills every day to manage it.
Sheen, who was once one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, also confessed that he’s been paying people to keep his secret, and the “shakedowns” have been adding up, now “enough to bring it into the millions,” he said. “What people forget is that’s money that they’re taking from my children. I’ve got five kids and a granddaughter, you know?”
What’s more, Sheen insisted that while he did hire “the companionship of unsavory and insipid types” — as quoted from a letter he’d given the host before the interview began — he always wore condoms and was honest with them about his condition. (This is basically a direct contrast to Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman, who told People that part of the star’s reluctance to go public stemmed from “a fear of litigation from former sexual partners.”)
Sheen later went on to say it was “impossible” that he’d knowingly or unknowingly transmitted the virus to any of his sexual partners — even the two people whom he had unprotected sex with. According to Sheen, both of these parties had been under the care of his doctor at the time and were fully aware of his condition in advance. He also insisted that since receiving his diagnosis, he’d told every one of his partners about his status in advance of sexual activity.
Dr. Robert Huizenga, who is currently treating Sheen, however, clarified one Sheen’s claims. “Individuals who are optimally treated, who have undetectable viral loads, who responsibly use protection have an incredibly low — it’s incredibly rare to transmit the virus,” he explained, “[but] we can’t say it’s zero.”