Charlie Sheen revealed Tuesday morning that he’s HIV positive.
“I am in fact HIV positive,” he said. “I have to put an end to this barrage of attacks, of subtruths, and very harmful and mercurial stories that are threatening the health of so many others, of [stories] that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
The 50-year-old actor told Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” that he was diagnosed four years ago after suffering headaches and night sweats.
“It’s a hard three letters to absorb,” Sheen said.
He also said he’s “not entirely” sure how he contracted the virus.
The actor told Lauer that he has disclosed his illness to everyone who he has been sexually active with since his diagnosis. Sheen said that he has not transmitted the virus to any of his partners, but that he has has unprotected sex since learning that he is HIV positive. Those sexual partners were under the care of his doctor, he said.
Lauer asked whether Sheen expected to face lawsuits after announcing his HIV-positive status.
“I would be predicting the future and assuming the worst,” he said. “I can only imagine, based on what I’ve experienced, I’m sure that’s what’s next.”
The former “Two and a Half Men” star said he has had to pay people “millions” to keep his HIV-positive diagnosis a secret.
“My trust turned into their treason,” Sheen said.
Sheen’s doctor Robert Huizenga also sat down with Lauer and explained that Sheen has undetectable levels of the virus in his blood because he has been taking antiviral medication. He does not have AIDS, Huizenga said.
Huizenga said that his biggest concerns about Sheen’s health are “substance abuse and depression from the disease.”
Sheen’s open letter
Sheen issued a statement Tuesday. It follows in full, unedited:
Roughly four years ago, I suddenly found myself in the throws of a seismic and debilitating three-day cluster-migraine like headache. I was emergently hospitalized with what I believed to be a brain tumor or perhaps some unknown pathology. I was partially correct. Following a battery of endless tests, that included a hideous spinal tap, it was sadly and shockingly revealed to me that I was, in fact, positive for HIV.
The news was a “mule kick” to my soul. Those impossible words I absorbed and then tried to convince myself, that I was stuck, suspended, or even stranded inside some kind of alternate reality or nightmare, were to the absolute contrary. I was awake. It was true … reality.
Under the brilliant and perfect care of Dr. Robert Huizenga as well as “the” leading infectious disease expert in the known universe, I began a rigorous and intensive treatment program. Not missing a beat, a med dose, or one shred of guidance, quickly my viral loads became undetectable. Like every other challenge in my life, again, I was victorious and kicking this disease’s ass. I wish my story had ended there. Unfortunately, for my family and myself, it had only just begun.
The personal disbelief, karmic confusion, shame and anger lead to a temporary yet abysmal decent into profound substance abuse and fathomless drinking. It was a suicide run. Problem was, I’d forgotten that I’m too tough for such a cowardly departure. Yet, despite this loathsome and horrific odyssey, I was vigilant with my anti-viral program.
My medical team could only shake their heads as each and every blood test returned levels revealing a state of remission. Even though I might have been trying to kill myself, one thing was radically evident; the disease was not.
In and around this perplexing and difficult time, I dazedly chose (or hired) the companionship of unsavory and insipid types. Regardless of their salt-less reputations, I always lead with condoms and honesty when it came to my condition. Sadly, my truth soon became their treason, as a deluge of blackmail and extortion took center stage in this circus of deceit.
To date, I have paid out countless millions to these desperate charlatans.
Locked in a vacuum of fear, I chose to allow their threats and skullduggery to vastly deplete future assets from my children, while my “secret” sat entombed in their hives of folly. (or so I thought)
News Flash: This ends today. I’m claiming back my freedom. The scales of justice will swiftly and righteously rebalance themselves.
In conclusion, I accept this condition not as a curse or scourge, but rather as an opportunity and a challenge. An opportunity to help others. A challenge to better myself.
Every day, of every month, of every year, countless individuals go to work, man their stations, fulfill their professional obligations with a host of disabilities. Diseases, imperfections, hurdles, detours. These maladies range from Lupus to Cancer, from paralysis to blindness, from Diabetes to Obesity. “Treated,” HIV is no different.
My partying days are behind me. My philanthropic days are ahead of me.
Earnest Hemingway once wrote:
“Courage is grace under pressure.”
I’ve served my time under pressure; I now embrace the courage, and the grace.
Love and Peace,