Charlie Sheen is HIV positive, he told Matt Lauer during a much-touted exclusive Today show interview Tuesday morning, The USA Today reports. The actor, whose drug use, rehab stints, legal issues, outbursts, on-set antics and many romantic entanglements have shaped his bad-boy image, confirmed the news, which had been swirling since Monday.
“I’m here to admit that I am in fact HIV positive. And, I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks, of sub-truths, and very harmful stories that are about threatening the health of so many others, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
Before the interview, Lauer said Sheen would “address recent speculation about his health.”
Sheen said that he’s speaking out now because of the millions of dollars he’s paid in hush money to people who he claims have threatened to reveal his diagnosis, which he received “roughly four years ago.” “I’ve paid those people. Not that many, but enough to where it has depleted the future (of his fortune). … I don’t want to guess wrong, but enough (people) to bring it into the millions. What people forget is that’s money they’re taking from my children.”
Sheen was diagnosed after suffering headaches and night sweats, he revealed. “It had started with what I thought was based on this series of cluster headaches and migraines and sweating the bed. … I thought I had a brain tumor. After a battery of tests … they walked in the room and said, ‘Here’s what’s going on.’ It’s a hard three letters to absorb. It’s a turning point in one’s life.”
Announcing his health news publicly has been a relief, Sheen said. “I think I released myself from this prison today.” When Lauer asked Sheen if he had engaged in unprotected sex since his diagnosis, the actor responded in the affirmative. “The two people I did that with were under the care of my doctor and they were completely warned ahead of time.”
Sheen said that he does not know how he contracted the disease and balked at Lauer’s question about engaging in high-risk behaviors. “You’re talking about needles and that whole mess? No, definitely not.” He also denied that his “tiger blood” period of public outbursts in 2011 was a result of his diagnosis, which he received around that time. “I wish I could blame it on that. That was more of a ‘roid rage.”
Sheen has not been in the spotlight much since his FX show Anger Management was canceled last year. While starring on CBS’ Two and a Half Men, Sheen was television’s highest-paid actor. He hopes his big reveal will help others living with the disease. “I have a responsibility now to better myself and to help a lot of other people, and hopefully with what I’m doing today, others may come forward and say, ‘Thanks, thanks, Charlie.'”
Sheen returned to the Today set for a second interview with Lauer, appearing with his personal physician, who said that the actor does not have AIDS and that he has “undetected viral loads.” For his third and final sit-down with Lauer, Sheen talked about telling his kids and his ex-wives Denise Richards and Brooke Mueller, his sex life and the future:
On facing possible legal action from past sexual partners: “I can only imagine, (with) what I’ve already experienced and I’ve been forced to deal with, I’m sure that’s next. Having divulged is the reason I’m in the mess that I’m in with all the shakedowns. I can’t sit here and protect against all of that. I can only sit here with you and tell my truth.”
On whether his kids know about his diagnosis: “Not the very young ones. (He has four children under the age of 12.) I told my oldest daughter Cassandra the other night. It hit her hard. … I said, ‘Sweetie, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. It didn’t seem like you could do anything for me and I didn’t want to burden you with all the stress.’ ” Sheen says Richards and Mueller have known he’s HIV positive.
On the media coverage of his announcement: “You can never really predict how the media’s going to roll with something. … I would hope they’d be a lot more forgiving and a lot more supportive. Frankly, I don’t think it can get any worse than that. That I was intentionally spreading it. I just thought, ‘Wow — damn, that’s as far from the truth as anything could be. They’re going to have to reveal a whole lot of proof because it’s just not there. It does not exist.'”
On those who say they’re not surprised he contracted HIV: “That’s not completely inane or crazy statement. I have to look at both sides, but I’m going to ride this wave of support. If there was one guy on this planet to contract this that’s going to deliver a cure, it’s me. It’s me. Seriously. 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. I will pick my spots carefully and respectfully.”
On his future in Hollywood: “As we speak, I have the chairman of Sony excited about doing a show again. I have a couple of films lined up that I can put start dates on. … Thus far, there’s been no resistance.”
On his “tiger blood” past: “There’s a lot about that that I’m not proud of. You can only hear ‘winning’ in the streets so many times … I’m approaching a time of more of a philanthropic approach in my life.”