After leaking the news yesterday, Charlie Sheen sat down with Matt Lauer on the Today show and officially announced that he is HIV-positive. "It's a hard three letters to absorb. It's a turning point in one's life," said the 50-year-old actor.
He decided to share the news, he says, because hiding it was getting to be too expensive.
"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," he says, adding that he's trusted the diagnosis with his inner circle, but has paid out "upwards of $10 million" to keep the illness a secret.
"What people forget is that it's money taken from my children," he says about the "shakedowns" he has experienced. "I trusted them and they were deep in my inner circle, and I thought they could be helpful. My trust turned to their treason."
He said coming clean means nobody can blackmail him anymore. "That's my goal. That's not my only goal. I think I release myself from this prison today," he said.
Sheen confirmed he was diagnosed about four years ago, but insists he doesn't know how he contracted the virus. "It started with what I thought was a series of crushing headaches," he said. "I thought I had a brain tumor. I thought it was over."
Sheen's doctor says that while HIV can lead to AIDS, Sheen "does not have AIDS." Sources have told People.com that Sheen “is saying there is virtually no trace of HIV in his blood. He's taking antiretrovirals and is sticking to the regime.” His doctor, Robert Huizenga, confirms that Sheen is on a healthy path right now taking four pills a day, but admits those close to him worry about a relapse into drugs and alcohol. "We're petrified about Charlie. We're so, so anxious that if he was overly depressed, if he was abusing substance, he would forget these pills and that's been an incredible worry," he said.
As for rumors that he knowingly infected others, Sheen says it's "impossible," though he does admit to having unprotected sex with two women after he was diagnosed. Those women have been under the care of his doctors, he says. His ex-girlfriend Natalie Kenly defends the actor against any accusations of intentionally putting others at risk. “He has regard for human beings and cares about people," she says. "I do not see him knowingly putting women at risk.”
Sheen's ex-wives, Denise Richards and Brooke Mueller, have both disclosed that neither they nor their children have been infected with the virus.
Charlie Sheen has stayed largely off the radar the last few years after his infamous exit from Two and Half Men and his short-lived sitcom Anger Management back in 2012. Now, Sheen admits he's not proud of his past behavior and is eager to get back to work to earn back the money he lost covering up his condition, and also rebuild his reputation.
"It's not great. It will be great again," he says of his life these past few years. "I'm a survivor. I've been up, I've been down, I've been rich, I've been poor. It's another chapter in my life but it's not commerce driven. It's socially driven."
Watch Sheen's interview with Matt Lauer below:
Watch a recap of the big story below:
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