Charlie Sheen revealed he was diagnosed as HIV-positive in an interview on the "Today" show on Tuesday.
The 50-year-old actor sat down with Matt Lauer and opened up about learning of the diagnosis four years ago.
"I would like to admit that I am in fact HIV-positive," he told Lauer. "I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of sub-truths and very harmful and mercurial stories that are about me, that threaten the health of so many others that couldn't be further from the truth."
Sheen went on to say he told those he thought he could trust at the time, but was ultimately mistaken, as he said that he's been extorted for "millions" of dollars in order to keep his diagnosis a secret.
"We're talking about shakedowns," the actor explained to Lauer and confirmed that a sex worker he hired took a photo of the anti-viral medication in his bathroom and threatened to sell the photo to the tabloids.
Sheen also said he's not sure how he contracted the virus. "It started with what I thought was a series of crushing headaches. I thought I had a brain tumor. I thought it was over," he said.
And while Sheen said he hasn't knowingly transmitted the virus, he admitted to having unprotected sex twice since learning of this diagnosis, however, both people were aware of his status ahead of time.
Sheen said his goal in disclosing his diagnosis is to put an end to the extortion and blackmail, and hopes that going public will help dispel the stigma surrounding the disease.
"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 will come forward and say, thanks Charlie," he said.
Sheen's interview with Lauer comes a day after The National Enquirer published a cover story claiming the actor was diagnosed four years ago, and two weeks after RadarOnline ran a blind item claiming a Hollywood "bad-boy" found out about his HIV-positive diagnosis two years ago. On Monday, both TMZ and People reported that Sheen intended going public with his diagnosis.
Sheen has mostly faded from the spotlight since FX canceled "Anger Management" in 2014, but at one point, the 50-year-old was the highest paid actor on television, reportedly taking home $1.9 million per episode for his role on "Two and a Half Men." This was before his much-publicized meltdown in 2011, in which he was fired from the CBS series and would go on to claim he possessed "tiger blood and Adonis DNA" and was "winning" in interviews.
The actor did make headlines, however, when he launched a personal attack against his ex-wife Denise Richards via Twitter in June. Richards and Sheen were married in 2002 and have two daughters together. They divorced in 2006. Sheen went on to marry actress Brooke Mueller, who gave birth to the couple's twin boys in 2009. The couple finalized their divorce in 2011, but a custody battle over their sons waged on. In December 2014, TMZ reported that Mueller was given full custody of the boys, while Sheen agreed to monitored visits.
According to the CDC, 1.2 million Americans are currently living with HIV, while 36.9 million people have been diagnosed as positive worldwide.
For more coverage on Charlie Sheen, check out:
- Charlie Sheen's 'Outing' Shows How Poorly We Treat HIV-Positive People
- Heather Locklear Leads Celebrity Support For Charlie Sheen After HIV Diagnosis
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