Hollywood celebrity Charlie Sheen appeared on NBC’s Today Show Tuesday morning and revealed that he is HIV-positive. After weeks of speculation, Sheen disclosed to host Matt Lauer that he was diagnosed four years ago and is unsure how he contracted the virus. This reveal was seemingly cathartic, as he said, “I release myself from this prison today.”
Sheen apparently made the announcement to end extortion efforts – hiding the truth from the public has cost him millions. “I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of sub-truths,” says Sheen. After revealing his HIV condition to friends, he was blackmailed mercilessly, caught in a cycle of deceit and betrayal. The former television star also mentioned an incident where a prostitute had taken a photo of his medication and threatened to sell it to newspapers.
The actor claimed that since his diagnosis, he has disclosed his status to all past sexual partners. He also admitted to having unprotected sex with two people recently, and that they were both being treated by his doctor. While an HIV-positive diagnosis used to be considered a death sentence, modern medicine has made it a manageable disease. That said, Sheen will be taking antiviral medication for the rest of his life.
Sheen’s rise to fame can be attributed to a variety of hit roles including, Wall Street, Major League and Young Guns. More recently, his career has cooled since being fired from long-running sitcom Two and a Half Men in 2011 after causing a public scene and insulting the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre. Filming was interrupted in previous years so Sheen could attend rehab for drug addiction. The megastar, once the highest-paid actor on television, has struggled with substance abuse for years and is frequently in the news for promiscuity, partying and offending people on Twitter.
Although the interview may generate support and HIV awareness, it may also result in litigation from past sexual partners and media attacks on Sheen. Perhaps this is what caused Sheen and his longtime publicist, Jeff Ballard to recently part ways – they are no longer working together, but after 35 years of friendship the two will remain close.
The actor claims to be entering a “more thoughtful and reflective” period in his life, and looking forward, his choices will be fueled by people, rather than money. To learn more about living with HIV/AIDS today and to contribute in the fight against the diseases, visit amfAR.org.