Hollywood star Charlie Sheen has confirmed he is
living with HIV in a US television interview.
“I am here to admit that I am HIV positive,” he
The former star of sitcom Two And A Half Men
appeared on NBC’s Today show, ending days of
intense media speculation.
Sheen revealed to Matt Lauer he had paid
“enough to take it into the millions” to keep
people from going public about his illness.
“I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this
barrage of attacks and of sub-truths,” he said,
adding he was diagnosed four years ago.
Entertainment Live: Charlie Sheen reaction
He said when he revealed his HIV status to
friends “the truth became treason”, leading to
“blackmail and extortion and a circle of deceit”.
“I trusted them, they were in my inner circle and
thought they could be helpful. My trust turned to
their treason,” he said, adding a prostitute took a
picture of his medication and threatened to sell it
“I think I release myself from this prison today,”
He admitted that his use of drink and drugs was
a “bad decision” but said it was “impossible” that
he would have passed HIV on to anyone else.
The actor said he does not know how he
contracted the virus but stressed he does not feel
any stigma attached to the illness.
Speaking about the time prior to his diagnosis, he
said: “It started with a series of cluster
headaches and sweating – I was hospitalised. I
thought I had a brain tumour – after tests they
said this was the situation. It’s a hard three
letters to absorb.”
Sheen appeared with his doctor, Robert Huizenga,
who said his daily medication has suppressed the
virus and he is “absolutely healthy”.
“Charlie has an undetectable level of the virus in
his blood,” he said.
When asked to respond to rumours Sheen has
Aids, Dr Huizenga said: “Charlie does not have
Aids – that’s when the virus suppresses the
immune system. He is healthy.”
‘Shame and anger’
Sheen said he is taking prescribed drugs daily
and despite his erratic tendencies, has never
missed a day’s medication.
He said he is no longer taking recreational drugs
but admitted he still “drinks a bit”.
Dr Huizenga said he did have concerns Sheen
might omit to take his medication.
“We’re petrified about him, we’re so, so anxious
that if he was overly depressed or abusing
substances he’d forget to take a pill, but he’s
managed to take his medication,” he said.
When asked if he would stop drinking, Sheen
responded by saying: “Perhaps the freedom of
today might lead to that as well.”
Sheen said his “personal disbelief and shame and
anger” at the initial diagnosis “led to a descent
into substance abuse and fathomless drinking”.
But now he feels he has “the responsibility to
better myself and help a lot of other people. With
what we’re doing today, others may come up and
say, ‘Thanks Charlie, thanks for kicking the door
He said he hoped the media pressure would ease
“You can never predict how the media will roll
with something,” he said. “I hope it’s a lot more
forgiving and supportive than a lot of the garbage
I’ve read over the past few days – that I knew I
had Aids and was intentionally spreading it.
“It’s as far from the truth as can be.”
HIV facts by Michelle Roberts, Health editor, BBC
There are many different ways that you might
catch HIV, but the main ones are having
unprotected sex or sharing needles or syringes.
HIV is transmitted via blood, not saliva, but it is
possible to catch HIV through unprotected oral
sex (although the risk is much lower than with
vaginal or anal sex).
Once infected, the virus attacks the person’s
immune system, making them more prone to
other infections and diseases.
There is no cure for HIV, but there are treatments
that mean people with the virus can live a long
and healthy life.
The best way to prevent HIV is to use a condom
for sex and to never share needles or other
The actor rose to fame in the 80s with hit films
including Platoon and Wall Street and, in 2011,
was the highest-paid actor on TV thanks to his
But he has frequently struggled with drink and
The star, who played a hedonistic bachelor in
Two And A Half Men, was fired from the show in
2011 after a downward spiral in his personal life,
often played out in public.
Production had been suspended after he entered
rehabilitation for reported drug and alcohol abuse.
The actor – the youngest son of West Wing star
Martin Sheen and brother of actor Emilio Estevez
– has also had a colourful personal life and has
been married three times.
Sheen’s first daughter, Cassandra was born to
his former high school girlfriend.
His first marriage, to Donna Peele, ended after a
year. His second marriage was to former Bond
girl Denise Richards, with whom he has two
daughters. They divorced in 2006 and he married
Brooke Mueller, with whom he has twin sons.
He was then due to marry adult film star Scottine
Ross, but the wedding was called off.
The actor said he had told Richards and Mueller
and his oldest daughter about his diagnosis.
Hollywood star Charlie Sheen has confirmed he is