Charlie Sheen Reveals He's HIV Positive
The actor appeared on NBC's 'Today' show amid reports about his health.
On Tuesday's Today, Charlie Sheen revealed he's HIV positive.
"I am here to admit that I am in fact HIV positive," the actor said. "I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and sub-truths and very harmful and mercurial stories that threaten the health of so many others that couldn't be farther from the truth."
In a sit-down with Matt Lauer in the Today studio in New York, Sheen said that he'd been diagnosed with the disease roughly four years ago and that he learned that he had HIV after battling headaches, "insane migraines" and "sweating the bed two, three nights in a row." He was subsequently hospitalized, he said on Today, explaining that he thought he "had a brain tumor [and that] it was over." After a number of tests, they told him he has HIV.
"It's a hard three letters to absorb," Sheen said. "It's a turning point in one's life."
When asked how many people he'd told about his condition, Sheen said, "I've told enough that I've trusted to be in the position and situation that I'm in today."
Sheen also revealed that he had been paying a number of people who had demanded money to keep the news under wraps, "shake downs" that he hoped would end with his appearance on the NBC morning show.
While he didn't reveal how many people he had paid, he said it was "enough to bring [the amount he'd paid] into the millions."
"What people forget is that's money they're taking from my children," Sheen said. "They think it's just me, but I've got five kids and a granddaughter."
He added he hoped he wouldn't have to keep paying people after Tuesday's appearance. "I think I release myself from this prison today," he said.
He said later on the show that his financial situation is "not great."
"It will be great again," he added. "I'm a survivor."
Sheen returned for two more segments roughly 30 minutes after he made his announcement. In the first segment, in which Sheen was accompanied by his physician, Dr. Robert Huizenga, who's also an assistant professor of clinical medicine at UCLA, Huizenga said that Sheen "does not have AIDS" and is "healthy," confirming that he has what Lauer called "an undetectable amount of the virus in his blood."
"He was immediately put on treatment, strong antiviral drugs, which have suppressed the virus…to the point that he's absolutely healthy from that vantage," Huizenga said. "And my biggest concern with Charlie as a patient is substance abuse and depression from the disease more than what the HIV virus could do in terms of shortening his life, because it's not going to."
Sheen said he's no longer doing drugs but is still drinking. Despite that, he claimed he hasn't missed a dose of the four pills he takes daily.
Earlier, Sheen said it was "impossible" that he'd transmitted the virus to anyone but had unprotected sex with two people since he was diagnosed but claimed they were under the care of his doctor and "completely warned ahead of time."
While Sheen said he hadn't done intravenous drugs, he said he was "not entirely" sure how he'd contracted the virus.
After Sheen made his announcement, Lauer asked if he was feeling relief.
"More than I thought possible," he said, smiling. He said he'd discussed his condition with his ex-wives Denise Richards and Brooke Mueller, adding that he told Mueller, to whom he was married until 2011, right after his diagnosis that she should get tested. And he told Lauer that the other night, he told his oldest daughter Cassandra of his diagnosis.
"Sweetie, I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner but it didn't seem like you could do anything for me and I didn't want to burden you with all of the stress," Sheen said he told her, adding that she's "tough like her dad" and "was a rock star about it."
Lauer repeatedly read from a letter Sheen sent to him, including part that said his diagnosis sent him reeling into drug use and other behavior. The Today co-host asked Sheen if his 2011 public meltdown, in which the actor talked about "winning" and having "tiger blood," was a reaction to his HIV diagnosis.
"I wish I could blame it on that," Sheen said. "That was more of a 'roid rage. But this was on the heels of that."
He added, "I have a responsibility now to better myself and help a lot of other people. Hopefully with what we're doing today others may come forward and say, 'Thanks, Charlie; thanks for kicking the door open.'"
Sheen admitted he'll speak out often about this but "will pick my spots carefully and respectfully."
"I'm not going to be the poster man for this, but I will not shun away from responsibilities and opportunities that drive me to helping others and delivering a cure," he said.
He indicated that his condition shouldn't affect his status in Hollywood, claiming he's told people privately of his condition and that he'd be revealing it publicly on Today and they said, "Well, he's still the best guy for the job."
In terms of future projects, Sheen claimed the "chairman of Sony is excited about doing a show again" and that he has "a couple of films lined up that I could put start dates on."
Today billed its interview with Sheen as him making a "revealing personal announcement," an appearance that occurred amid various reports that he'd been diagnosed with the disease.
On Monday, the National Enquirer reported that Sheen is HIV positive and Hollywood publicist and crisis manager Howard Bragman told People that he was approached by individuals close to Sheen to deal with his situation.
"I've known about this a long time, it's not a surprise to me," Bragman said of Sheen's condition. "I feel very sorry for his pain. And I hope it's used as a teachable moment for the world. This is a disease that can affect anyone."
Bragman adds that he was told Sheen "is getting treatment, and a lot of people in his life know about it."
"It's been going on for quite awhile. He's not necessarily comfortable talking about it. It was very hard to get up the courage for him to talk about it."
TMZ and other outlets also reported Monday that Sheen is carrying the virus that causes AIDS.
Those reports came on the heels of blind items about an unnamed actor's HIV-positive diagnosis.
Sheen has openly acknowledged extensive drug use and soliciting prostitutes. He was famously fired from Two and a Half Men in 2011 after his public feud with producer Chuck Lorre, the network and the studio. He subsequently starred in FX's Anger Management.