Charlie Sheen reveals he is HIV positive and paid ‘millions’ to blackmailers
Two and a Half Men actor Charlie Sheen has disclosed he is living with HIV – after he was named by tabloids.
The actor was previously the highest-paid actor on TV due to his role on the popular sitcom – but he had a highly publicised “meltdown” in 2011 after he was dismissed from the show.
His HIV status was unwillingly disclosed this month, after the Sun newspaper ran a story about an unnamed “womanising” actor with HIV, titled “Hollywood HIV panic”.
Though he was not named in the original report, he was subsequently ‘outed’ as HIV positive by tabloid news outlets. Other online LGBT outlets also named the actor without permission prior to his announcement.
He went public with the news this morning, appearing on NBC’s Today Show to discuss his status with Matt Lauer.
He said: “I’m here to admit that I am in fact HIV positive. I have to stop this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and sub-truths.
“There’s very harmful stories that are about me threatening the health of others – which couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I found out roughly four years ago. It started based on this series of insane migranes, and I was sweating… I thought I had a brain tumour, I thought it was over.
“But after a battery of tests, they said this is what’s going on. It’s a hard three letters to absorb.”
Revealing he has been the victim of a “deluge of blackmail and extortion”, he said: “I have paid most people – enough to bring it into the millions. What people forget is that’s money they’re taking from my children.”
Asked whether he is still paying, he says: “Not after today, I’m not! I release myself from this prison today.”
He added of stigma surrounding HIV: “I have a responsibility now to better myself and help a lot of other people. Hopefully with what we’re doing today, others might come forward and say ‘thanks Charlie’.”
The actor, who is heterosexual, revealed he has known about his HIV status for four years. He added that thanks to modern treatments, his viral load is undetectable and he is a very low transmission risk – with a minimal health impact.
The revelation comes ahead of HIV Testing Week – with a number of HIV/AIDS charities calling on people to ensure regular testing.
Terrence Higgins Trust notes that though HIV disproportionately affects the gay community, heterosexuals still make up half of diagnoses.
The charity emphasises: “Thanks to HIV drugs, doctors now see the infection as something that people can live very well with for a lifetime.
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“This is especially true if they are diagnosed early and start medication before the virus does too much damage to their immune system, in which case a person can expect to live as long as someone who doesn’t have HIV.
“Thanks to medication, HIV-related illness and deaths have dropped dramatically.”
GLAAD CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis said: “To eradicate HIV once and for all, we must first eradicate the stigma attached to it.
“Stigma prevents people from getting tested, it prevents people from getting treated, and it can contribute to increased rates of infection.
“In this new era of prevention and treatment, including methods like PrEP, the media must take this opportunity to end the stigma and shine light on the stories of more than 1.2 million Americans living full lives with HIV today.”