During an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show on Tuesday, actor Charlie Sheen confirmed that he is HIV-positive–confirming multiple rumours that have been circling about the man and his less-than-private sex life.
The actor adds that, since his diagnosis four years ago, he’s been blackmailed for millions of dollars over the disease, which is one of the reasons for him coming out publicly about it.
Sheen admitted that he’s hired many prostitutes over the years, and that some of them turned around and extorted him over being HIV-positive. Sheen told Matt Lauer that one of them took a photo with her cellphone of the medication he had in his bathroom to treat the disease, and threatened to sell the photo to the press.
“What people forget is that’s money they’re taking from my children,” said Sheen. “They think it’s just me, but I’ve got fie kids and a granddaughter.”
Sheen’s doctor, Robert Huizenga, also joined Sheen on the Today Show to confirm the diagnosis–and put to rest rumours that Sheen has AIDS.
“[The treatment] suppressed the virus to the point that he’s absolutely healthy from that vantage. And my biggest concern with Charlie as a patient is substance abuse and depression from the disease more than what the HIV virus can do in terms of shortening his life, because it’s not going to.”
Sheen admitted to descending into depression because of the disease, which led him to drug and alcohol abuse.
Dr. Huizenga also told Lauer that it would be impossible for Sheen to transmit the disease to someone else through protected sex.
“Individuals who are optimally treated, who have undetected viral loads and who responsibly use protection have incredibly low–it’s incredibly rare to transmit the virus,” he said. “We can’t say that it’s zero, but it’s a very, very low number.”
Sheen, who told Lauer that he always led with condoms and honesty with all of his sexual partners, is understandably denying rumours that he threatened the health of those partners–saying that it “couldn’t be farther from the truth.” He said that he has told all of his sexual partners of him being HIV-positive before any sexual activity.
This is opposite of what Bree Olson–former porn star and ex-girlfriend of Sheen–is saying. Olson is claiming that Sheen never told her about his diagnosis. After hearing rumours of his diagnosis, Olson went to get tested herself, which resulted in negative.
“He never said anything to me. I was his girlfriend. I lived with him,” Olson told Howard Stern on his SiriusXM talkshow. “We were together. We had sex almost every day for a year.”
Sheen is expecting a “barrage of lawsuits” because of the amount of his sexual activity within the past few years. Lauer noted that there are 35 states that have laws that place people responsible for telling sexual partners beforehand that they’re HIV-positive. Breaking this law can result in being charged with a crime.
“This I completely understand, and I completely respect that. But having divulged it is the reason I’m in the mess that I’m in with having all the–all the shakedowns, you know,” said Sheen. “I can’t sit here and protect against all of that or completely worry about it. I can only sit here with you and tell my truth.”
After being asked if he feels the negative stigma that comes with the disease, Sheen said, “Not anymore, I don’t. I have a responsibility now to better myself and to help a lot of other people. And hopefully with what we’re doing today, others may come forward and say, ‘Thanks, Charlie. Thanks for kicking the door open.'”